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Pope Benedict Fuels Sainthood Hopes at John Paul's Birthplace


Pope Benedict followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, on the third day of his visit to John Paul's native Poland. Benedict visited John Paul's hometown, and then met with hundreds-of-thousands of young Poles in Krakow.

More than half-a-million young people lined the streets of Krakow and filled the park of Blonia for a meeting with Pope Benedict, at the end of his third day in Poland. The enthusiastic multitude sang and waved Polish and Vatican flags.

They cheered, clapped and called out Benedict's name, many times interrupting a long speech.

The pope told them not to be afraid or run from the desire for a full, happy and successful life. The fear of failure, he said, can sometimes frustrate even the most beautiful dreams. The pope told the young not to be afraid to build their lives on the Church and with the Church.

Benedict addressed the huge crowd from the same place where, in the past, Pope John Paul addressed similar crowds. Saturday was a day devoted to the memory of John Paul.

In the morning, Benedict visited the cathedral where John Paul was baptized and his childhood home in the town of Wadowice. He also stopped at two shrines where John Paul used to pray. At one of them, he said he hoped that John Paul would be made a saint soon.

He said, "May providence allow us to enjoy in the near future the beatification and canonization of the beloved John Paul the Second."

Benedict is scheduled to visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on Sunday. The papal spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said this stop had not originally been planned. But Benedict said he could not fail to go there.

The spokesman said it would not be Benedict's first visit to Auschwitz. When he was not yet pope, he went with John Paul in 1979, and, the following year, he led a group of German bishops.

The papal spokesman said Pope Benedict would go there as a son of the German people, just as John Paul had gone there as a son of the Polish people.

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