VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 11, 2002 ( John Paul II prayed for the victims of last Sept. 11's terrorist attacks and condemned terrorism, during a commemorative service at the Vatican.

"Terrorism is and always will be a manifestation of inhuman cruelty that, precisely because of this, will never be able to resolve conflicts among human beings," the Pope said. He dedicated today's general audience to recalling the attacks that killed 3,000.

The attendance of pilgrims at the commemoration was higher than expected. The Holy Father went to the Vatican by helicopter from his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. He prayed for the victims in Paul VI Hall, which was filled to capacity.

"Outrage, armed violence and war are choices that only sow and generate hatred and death. Only reason and love are valid means to overcome and resolve differences between persons and peoples," the Pope stressed during a ceremony marked by tight security measures.

At the end, speaking in Polish, the Holy Father asked those present to pray "for the eternal rest of the victims, and that God will grant mercy and pardon to the authors of this terrible terrorist attack."

But he added: "We repeat that no situation of injustice, no sense of frustration, no philosophy or religion can justify such an aberration."

"Every human person has the right to have his/her life and dignity respected, which are inviolable goods," the Pope said. "God says this, international law sanctions it, the human conscience proclaims it, civil coexistence demands it."

In response to the attacks, the Pontiff urgently requested from the international community a common and determined effort "to undertake new political and economic initiatives capable of resolving the scandalous situations of injustice and oppression."

These situations, the Holy Father explained, create "conditions that are favorable to the uncontrollable explosion of rancor."

"When fundamental rights are violated, it is easy to fall prey to temptations of hatred and violence. It is necessary to build together a global culture of solidarity, which will again give youth hope in the future," John Paul II said.

He concluded by asserting that "liberty and peace can only spring from truth and justice. On these values it is possible to build a life worthy of man. Outside of these there is only ruin and destruction."

At the end, when greeting a group of pilgrims, the Pope recalled that "in September 1939, the Poles were attacked by Hitler's Germany. Let us entrust to God the victims of that war, as well as the victims of the New York terrorist attack."

The commemoration, which began with a solemn choir singing "Da Pacem, Domine" ("Give Us Peace, Lord"), ended with a moving prayer raised in several languages.

The prayer in Arabic was for "believers of all religions to firmly reject all forms of violence and commit themselves to resolve conflicts through sincere and patient dialogue, respectful of the different historic, cultural and religious traditions."