Pope John Paul II Friday prepared for a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay - his ninth visit in just over nine years to Latin America, home to nearly half the world's 840 million Roman Catholics.

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John Paul will leave early Saturday on his trip to 18 cities in Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay during the 12-day trip. He is to deliver 54 sermons, two "acts of faith" to the Virgin Mary and four taped messages for television. He also will canonize three saints.

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