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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Frail Pope Pushes Ahead for Peace

APPope John Paul II riding on a mobile platform at Baku's airport Wednesday.
BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Stooped, slow and unsteady, Pope John Paul II began a visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday, determined to pursue peace "as long as I have breath within me" but reading just a few lines of his speeches and staying seated most of the time.

The five-day trip to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria was the start of a trying travel period for John Paul, who turned 82 on Saturday and appears increasingly frail.

"It is what you see," said the pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, when asked about John Paul's health on the flight from Rome.

As it often has since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the pope's agenda in this former Muslim nation included a condemnation of fundamentalism, calls for religious tolerance and an appeal that violence must never be carried out in the name of religion.