Thursday, January 1, 2004 Posted: 9:21 AM EST (1421
Thursday, January 1, 2004 Posted: 1421 GMT (10:21 PM HKT)
Pope John Paul II presides over a morning Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Thursday, to mark the World Day of Peace.
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II rang in the New Year on Thursday with a renewed call for peace in the Middle East and Africa and the creation of a new world order based on respect for the dignity of man and equality among nations.
John Paul presided over a morning Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica to mark the World Day of Peace, which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates every January 1. He appeared in good form, delivering his entire homily in a strong and clear voice despite a relatively tiring holiday schedule.
This year, John Paul directed his thoughts to continuing conflicts around the globe. But he stressed that to bring about peace, there needs to be a new respect for international law and the creation of a "new international order" based on the goals of the United Nations.
He called for "an order that is able to give adequate solutions to today's problems based on the dignity of the human being, on an integral development of society, on solidarity among nations rich and poor, on the sharing of resources and the extraordinary results of scientific and technical progress."
The pope lamented continuing violence between Israel and the Palestinians, and also offered his prayers for his ambassador to Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney, who was gunned down by assailants this week as he returned from a funeral.
John Paul said Courtney was killed "while he carried out his mission in favor of dialogue and reconciliation" in the central African country, which has been wracked by violence for a decade.
"Let us pray for him, hoping that his example and sacrifice will bring about the fruits of peace in Burundi and the world," he said.
Earlier this month, John Paul issued a formal document marking the World Day of Peace in which he called for a reform of the United Nations and international law to deal with the evolving threat of terrorism.
He said a new respect for international law was the only way to achieve peace and guarantee against the arbitrary use of force. He did not mention the United States by name, but his message appeared aimed at the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign and in particular at Washington's pre-emptive war in Iraq, which was launched without the specific authorization of the United Nations.
John Paul was a vocal critic of the Iraq war, dispatching envoys to Washington and Baghdad to try to prevent hostilities from breaking out and exhorting world leaders that war was not inevitable and was "always a defeat for humanity."
"Because peace is possible ... it is necessary," he said during his homily Thursday.
The New Year's Mass was the last major celebration of the Christmas season for John Paul, who is 83 and suffers from Parkinson's disease, which makes it difficult for him to speak, as well as knee and hip ailments that make it almost impossible for him to walk or stand.
He cut back some of his holiday activities and scrapped two traditional papal events the ordination of bishops January 6 and baptisms on January 11.
But throughout the Christmas season, he has appeared far stronger than during the series of celebrations in October marking his 25th anniversary as pope. Then, he was unable to deliver many of his homilies and had to have others to read them on his behalf.
Pope Wants New International Order to Keep Peace
Thu Jan 1, 6:05 AM ET
By Claire Soares
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The world needs a "new international order" to solve its conflicts and ensure peace, Pope John Paul (news - web sites) said in his New Year's Day address on Thursday.
The ghosts of 2003 -- when the United States invaded Iraq (news - web sites) without United Nations (news - web sites) approval -- dominated the pope's first speech of 2004.
"More than ever we need a new international order which draws on the experience and results of the United Nations," the 83-year-old pontiff said at a mass in St Peter's Basilica.
"An order which is capable of finding adequate solutions to today's problems, based on the dignity of human beings, on integrating all society, on solidarity between rich and poor countries, on the sharing of resources and the extraordinary results of scientific and technological progress," he added.
Speaking at Christendom's largest church, the pope urged people not to lose hope of finding peace in the Holy Land, which the Vatican (news - web sites) feels is vital to winning the war on terror.
"The land in which Jesus was born sadly continues to live in a dramatic condition. And in other parts of the world sparks of violence and conflict have not been extinguished either. But we need to persevere and not bow to the temptation of losing hope."
Turning to Africa, the pope paid tribute to his Burundi ambassador, Michael Courtney, killed on Monday in an ambush the army has blamed on rebels who have refused to join a peace process to end a 10-year conflict.
"(He) was tragically killed...while he was going about his mission of promoting dialogue and reconciliation. We pray for him and hope his example and sacrifice will bear the fruits of peace in Burundi and the world," the pope said.
The leader of the world's one billion Catholics, who suffers from Parkinson's disease (news - web sites) that makes it difficult for him to talk, seemed alert and read all of his homily in a clear voice.
But it is unclear what 2004 holds for him. For the first time since his election in 1978, the pope enters the new year with no firm plans for travel, although there have been some invitations.
He was particularly weak on his last foreign trip, a visit to Slovakia in September, when aides had to read most of his addresses for him.
Notice how the Pope makes special mention of terror in the Holy Land as being a vital key in generating world peace. Why shuch a desire for Jerusalem? The ultimate mockery of the Lord.
Daniel 11:45, "And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him."
Praise the Lord he will in fact, "come to an end!"