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AMERICAN MORNING

Pope John Paul II Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Aired October 13, 2003 - 08:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Now to Vatican City. Pope John Paul II celebrates his 25th anniversary this week. The 83-year-old pontiff thanking god and worshipers for allowing him to reach his 25th year as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Alessio Vinci live right now in Vatican City for more on what's happening today -- good afternoon there, Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Bill.

Well, despite the pope's frail health, no talks here of a successor or possible succession. Of course, at least not openly. Vatican officials here are making sure that this week's celebration, celebrations are not turning into a retirement party. The pope, of course, is old. He's frail. He's weak. He suffers from a series of ailments.

But judging from his schedule ahead, this is not a pope that's giving any sign of wanting to give up his mission here. We expect hundreds of thousands of people on October 16 here for an open air mass. The people will celebrate his 25th anniversary a couple of days later, on Sunday. He will have another mass in front of another 200,000 people for the beatification of Mother Teresa.

And then, if that were not enough, the pope has called a consistory, which is a meeting of all the cardinals, cardinals being, if you want, the ministers or the number one people in the Catholic Church below the pope, of course. He will have a meeting where he will elevate 31 new cardinals.

So an extremely incredibly busy schedule for the pope and certainly one that does not let people believe that this is a man who is really close to giving up -- Bill.

HEMMER: A lot to talk about today and going to the week.

Thanks, Alessio.

Alessio Vinci in Rome, Italy.

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