Picking up a Latin rhythm on the second-to-last day of his whirlwind Mexican visit, Pope John Paul II today led a football-style cheer in his honor and sang along with a Mexican folklore tune that he said he knew onlu in Polish.
Tens of thousands of poople who had gathered in the Guadalajara suburb of Santa cheered as the pope joined in a chorus of "Cielito Lindo," which he said he would "have to learn in Mexican."
The 40-minute Santa Cecilia stop was the first in another hectic papal day. Traveling by helicopter, John Paul visited a nearby village, celebrated mass in the Guadalajara Cathedral and spoke at a local stadium.
The pope ordered the helicopter to land briefly outside the Jalisco state prison, condidered one of Mexico's most violent, where a Vatican flag and a sign from the imnates greeting the popw could be seen hanging from a watchtower. He delivered a blessing "to our brothers who are prisoners," but did not enter the prison.
In a motorcade throuh the city, he was greeted by what appeared to be at least half of Guadalajara's 2 million people.
Many of them stood on rooftops along the way or hung precariously out of windows and from trees and street lights, showering the pontiff with pieces of colored paper that turned the procession into a New York-style ticker tape parade.
An escort of several hundred Mexican charros -- cowboys on horseback -- rode alongside the motorcade, and the pope donned a Mexican style cowboy hat for part of the ride.
After five days of ample exposure to the bright Mexican winter sun, the pope's initially sunburned face has acquired a healthy lookibg tan. Although he cut his schedule short Sunday, when he was reportedly suffering from exhaustion, he seemed more accustomed to the heat and chaos today. At one point he departed briefly from his usual prepared text for a little impromptu Spanish chat with the crowd in the downtown square.
"Muchas gracis a todos ," he said. "Thank you for the warmth and emotion with which the faithful of this beautiful, beautiful, splendid city of Guadalajara have greeted me."
For the most part, John Paul's prepared speeches today were simple. He reaffirmed his solidarity with the poor and asked for strengthened faith in the Catholic church to which more than 90 percent of Mexicans adhere.
In contrast to the earlier days of his Mexican visit, when clamoring crowds often threatened to crush him in their enthusiasm, security around the pope has tightened. At Santa Cecilia this morning, he spoke from behind a double barbed wire fence lined with uniformed police cadets armed with billy clubs.
From behind the barbed wire, three locall Jesuit priests handed out copies of an open letter to the pope criticizing the big money sponsorship to the pope criticizing the big money sponsorship of his visit and the "sensationalism" it has spawned.
Live television coverage of every papal move in the past fove days has been sponsored -- with frequent commercials -- by one of Mexico's largest banks. Pessrooms for the more than 2,000 journalists accredited for the trip have been fun by another bank, which has supplied reporters with food, drink and souvenir trinkets, all in advertisementladen packaging.
Although the letter elaborately compared the pope with Jesus Christ, it made heavy reference to John Paul's conservative speech to a Latin American bishops' conference last Sunday. The letter asked if the pope would truly join with "those clergy who struggle for justice" rather than those bishops who "unite with the powerful to oppress the Latin American people."
"That is the only thing lacking, Karol Wojtyla, for us to say from the heart that you are Christ in the 20th Century," the letter said.
The pope is due to return to Mexico City tonight, and to make a final stop Wednesday in the northeastern city of Monterrey, then fly back to Rome.