NO SPECIAL celebrations for pope's 81st birthday

Friday, May 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II marked his 81st birthday Friday by keeping to a regular working schedule and planning only a small lunch with friends.

In a series of audiences, the pope was meeting with ambassadors from nine countries, bishops from Pakistan and European car manufacturers.

For his 80th birthday a year ago, John Paul celebrated Mass with thousands of priests from around the world and shared a lobster lunch with cardinals. But generally, the Vatican plans nothing special for the day.

In Wadowice, Poland, the pope's hometown, students and teachers from 32 schools named for the pontiff sang the traditional song ``Sto Lat'' _ ``May He Live 100 Years'' _ and prayed for his health Friday.

The pope appeared particularly weak during his recent tour of Greece, Syria and Malta, but the Vatican this week prepared final details of another foreign tour, a June 23-27 pilgrimage to Ukraine.