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Pope, Showing Old Form, Jokes About Rain

August 25, 1996

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) _ Showing some of his old self-confidence and humor, Pope John Paul II joked with pilgrims Sunday, 10 days after an abdominal problem forced him to skip public engagements.

``Now I want to greet the rain in various languages,″ John Paul joked to the delight of pilgrims and tourists standing in a downpour in the courtyard of the papal summer residence southeast of Rome.

The pope, protected from the rain on a balcony, spoke to the applauding crowd in several languages.

John Paul, who has appeared sluggish and unsmiling in his last few meetings with the public, seemed more confident of his strength.

Earlier this month, the Vatican said the pope was taking antibiotics for a fever and said an unspecified abdominal problem forced him to cancel two Masses he was scheduled to celebrate.

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