Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 / 22:00 pm
John Paul II told tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square for his 25th-anniversary mass that God wanted him to continue as the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church despite his poor health.
One of the longest-serving pontiffs celebrated a special outdoor mass yesterday almost 25 years, to the minute, after his election.
"He, while knowing my human fragility, encourages me to respond with faith . and He invites me to assume the responsibilities that He himself has entrusted to me," the pope said.
John Paul, looking weak and having trouble speaking, became emotional as he recalled the moment when cardinals chose him as pontiff in 1978.