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This week in Christian history: ‘Jesus Revolution’ leader dies, Pope John Paul II holds Mass at Yankee Stadium

Pope John Paul II holds Mass at Yankee Stadium – Oct. 2, 1979

Pope John Paul II gestures to the crowd at New York's Shea Stadium after his arrival October 3, 1979.
Pope John Paul II gestures to the crowd at New York's Shea Stadium after his arrival October 3, 1979. | AP Photo/File

This week marks the anniversary of when Pope John Paul II held Mass at Yankee Stadium in New York City, preaching before approximately 80,000 people as part of a two-day tour of the United States.

In addition to attendees filling all of the stands, an additional 13,000 folding chairs were put on the field, which included the seating for a choir of around 1,200 singers, representing multiple dioceses.

“Pope John Paul II spoke from a consecrated altar placed in the vicinity of second base,” The New York Times reported in 1979. “Papal and United States flags hung from the facade in center field, and homemade banners hung from the grandstands. The banners ranged from simple messages of welcome to anti‐abortion statements.”

During his homily, the pontiff emphasized the need for charity, telling those gathered that “God's Justice and Peace cry out to bear fruit in human works of justice and peace, in all the spheres of actual life.”

“When we Christians make Jesus Christ the center of our feelings and thoughts, we do not turn away from people and their needs,” he stated.

“Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need—openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advanced; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged.”

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