Pope's health highlights 17th anniversary

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY Marking the 17th anniversary of his papacy, Pope John Paul II looked healthy and showed a sense of humor yesterday as he asked for prayers to continue his mission.

The pope ended his customary Sunday public appearance in St. Peter's Square by remembering Oct. 22, 1978, the Sunday on which he was proclaimed bishop of Rome.

''I entreat your prayers for the continuation of my ministry,'' John Paul told the cheering crowd after giving them his blessing.

Earlier, the pope met with parishioners in a working-class neighborhood. The pope regularly visits parishes in Rome in his role as bishop of the Italian capital.

The parish lacks a church, so Mass is usually celebrated in an apartment building. For the pope's visit, however, an altar was set up in a small outdoor square.

The pope joked that his installation as pontiff took place in a much bigger plaza, St. Peter's Square.

After undergoing three operations since 1992, including surgery to remove a bowel tumor, the 75-year-pope is closely watched for signs of frailty.

Recently he has looked tired or listless, and since having hip replacement surgery following a fall, John Paul sometimes walks gingerly.

Mass gathering mourns slain family

The Associated Press

YOKOHAMA, Japan More than 11,000 mourners filled an arena yesterday for the funeral of a family believed to have been killed by the cult blamed for the nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway.

Another 15,000 people lined nearby streets to pray and lay flowers for lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife Satoko and their 1-year-old son Tatsuhiko.

Sakamato was waging a legal battle against the Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth, cult when he and his family disappeared in 1989.

Information from cult members arrested following the March 20 subway gassing led to the discovery last month of the family's buried remains. Twelve people died in the subway attack and another 5,500 were sickened.

Since the subway attack, senior cult members reportedly have confessed to a string of unsolved crimes and linked several, including Sakamoto's death, to orders from Shoko Asahara, 40, the cult's leader.

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