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Pope John Paul II, jabbing a finger at a crowd of some 300,000 and repeating his words for emphasis, told fellow Poles to guard carefully the freedom they regained with the collapse of communism.

"We cannot simply possess freedom. We must, we must constantly fight for it," the pope said Sunday during the last Mass of a pilgrimage to his homeland.He reviewed the past two centuries of Polish history, marked by the loss of independence for 123 years until 1918, followed by the totalitarian system imposed by Moscow after World War II and culminating with a non-communist government elected in 1989.

"We cannot stop here," he said, jabbing his finger toward his audience of some 300,000. "The test of freedom is still ahead of us."

Poland has entered a period of political squabbling as austerity measures have increased dissatisfaction.