CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 14, 2001 ( John Paul II interrupted his activities at midday today to pray in the chapel of the papal summer residence for the victims of the terrorist attacks on the United States.

In a press statement, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican Press Office, said that the Pope implored for "relief for the wounded and peace and reconciliation in the world."

In this way, the Pontiff joined the initiative taken by 43 countries of the European Council, in whose public offices, institutional headquarters, schools, universities and barracks all activities were halted to observe moments of silence as a sign of mourning and solidarity with the United States. The initiative involved 800 million citizens.

On Tuesday, when John Paul II heard the news of the attack on New York´s World Trade Center, before going to watch the television he went to pray to God for an end to the attacks, and for the wounded and victims, as well as their loved ones.

The following day, the Holy Father presided over a Prayer of the Faithful in St. Peter´s Square. On Thursday he launched a proposal for a new era of international cooperation, when he received James Nicholson, the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.