An emotional John Paul II, making what many Poles fear may be his last pilgrimage home, asked his countrymen to pray for him Monday so that he can lead the Roman Catholic Church into 2000.
The 77-year-old pope said at an evening prayer service that his mentor, the late Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, had predicted he would take the church into the third millennium of Christianity.
“I’m growing in years,” John Paul said, “I ask you to beg God, on your knees, so that I will be able to fulfill this task.”
The crowd of nearly 400,000 responded with “we will help, we will help,” a chant used in the early 1970s, during the former communist regime. Communism fell in Poland in 1989.
John Paul smiled. “I know this chant,” he said. “This time I hope it’s more effective.”