Pope Begins New Year Proposing Dialogue as Way to Peace

Calls for Continuation of Negotiations in Middle East

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- During his first Mass of the new year and the third millennium, John Paul II made a heartfelt appeal for dialogue, as the necessary way to reach genuine peace.

Over 50,000 pilgrims crowded in St. Peter´s Square and the Via della Conciliazione to hear the Holy Father. Together with the one billion Catholics worldwide, the pilgrims were celebrating the 34th World Day of Peace and the feastday of Mary, Mother of God.

Among those attending the Mass were representatives of all those countries that have diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Several days earlier, the ambassadors received copies of the Pontiff´s message for the occasion, entitled «Dialogue Between Cultures for a Civilization of Love and Peace

In the message, the Pope comments on the dialogue between cultures, the topic chosen by the United Nations for the first year of the 21st century. John Paul II strongly condemns racism and xenophobia, and calls for the implementation of ethical principles in welcoming immigrants.

Vietnamese Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân concelebrated Mass with the Pope. Not only did the Archbishop suffer the civil war that afflicted Vietnam, but he was also imprisoned, isolated, and sent to forced labor camps. At present, he is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The monumental Nativity scene in St. Peter´s Square was a fitting background for the Pontiff´s homily; he called attention to the shepherds as models for Christians today, who must proclaim the Good News of peace on earth, goodwill to all.

The Pope appealed for everyone´s commitment, including that of non-Christians, to build a «new era of fraternity and solidarity.»

«Today I renew the invitation to every person of good will to go forward with confidence and tenacity on the privileged way of dialogue,» the Holy Father exhorted.

«May all make an effort to promote a genuine culture of solidarity and justice, intimately linked to peace, the primary objective of every society,» the Pope added.

According to John Paul II, the dialogue between cultures is «is even more necessary in the present world context,» as it is «increasingly complex given the spread of human migrations, global communication, and the not always easy meeting between different cultures.»

In fact, the first Papal address in the new year was an urgent call to «defend life, fundamental good of humanity, as peace cannot be invoked where there is contempt for life.»

As the Pope himself acknowledged on several occasions, his thoughts on this day of peace were directed repeatedly to the Holy Land. During the prayers of the faithful, special mention was made of the need for peace in Jerusalem.

«May all those who recognize Abraham as the Father of faith cultivate in spirit the awareness of the common values of every culture and, beginning with the Holy Land, witness to the value of solidarity and justice,» a young woman implored in Arabic.

Today the Pope sent Cardinal Roger Etchegaray as special legate to give his message for the World Day of Peace to Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat.

At the end of the Mass, the Holy father prayed the Angelus with the gathered pilgrims, and before saying goodbye, he explained the meaning of this extraordinary appointment. It is an invitation «to continue in the way of dialogue to reach the much desired peace, essential basis for a fruitful coexistence among all the peoples of the earth.»

New Year´s Eve with the Holy Father

Several hours before the Mass, a large crowd gathered in St. Peter´s Square to await the coming of the new millennium in prayer. Despite the cold, spirits were high among the pilgrims. The festivities began with a series of Christmas carols played by a group of seminarians from the Legionaries of Christ. Afterwards, an hour-long prayer vigil began, featuring Gospel readings and songs in several languages.

Finally, at midnight, the Holy Father appeared at his balcony to give his first blessing of the millennium to the gathered pilgrims. On this occasion as well, his words turned into a call for peace. «I hope the new millennium will bring peace, justice, fraternity, and prosperity to all nations,» he concluded.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation