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PRESIDENT WELCOMES POPE TO ST. LOUIS

Pope John Paul II arrived in St. Louis today for his fifth trip to the U.S. mainland, a 30-hour stopover after his triumphant five-day visit to Mexico.

When the papal plane landed at Lambert Airport, young people waiting at the Kiel Center to join the pope in a youth rally this evening reacted with a rousing cheer.

President Clinton arrived ahead of the pontiff's plane. He and the first lady welcomed him in a ceremony before the president and the pope held talks in an airport hangar.

A day before, the Vatican condemned the firing of missiles by U.S. aircraft in Iraq. In a statement, spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the U.S. bombing "confirms once again" the pope's view that military measures "don't resolve problems in themselves; rather they aggravate them."

The pope also has criticized U.S. policy on the death penalty, abortion and economic sanctions against Cuba and Iraq.

The differences shouldn't dampen the pope's welcome for the visit. As many as 600,000 people were expected to turn out.

Today's schedule includes the youth rally, a fitting event because the pope is counting on young Catholics to battle what he calls a "culture of death." Wednesday, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass before 104,000 people in the Trans World Dome.

He also is scheduled to take part in an evening service in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis before departing Wednesday night.

His departure from Mexico City was an emotional one. Spectators at the airport burst into tears, waving white and yellow handkerchiefs and chanting: "Let him stay!" Schoolchildren, religious officials and members of the crowd rushed onto the red carpet to kneel before the pope and kiss his hand as he made his way toward the plane.

Tens of thousands of people lined the pope's route from the Vatican's nunciate, or embassy, to the airport, waving pennants emblazoned with the pope's portrait and the word "adios."

The visit to St. Louis is the pontiff's second leg of a mission to give new direction to his flock on the eve of the third millennium and to strengthen ties between Catholics in North and Latin America.

In the course of his five days in Mexico, the pope outlined church strategy throughout the Americas for the start of the millennium.

He signed a declaration containing that strategy. It also condemned the evils of exploitative capitalism, abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment.

He urged Catholics to defend their faith more vigorously against Protestant sects that have made inroads in Latin America, and he stressed the need to preach to both rich and poor.

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