New Year's Day Plea

John Paul II Calls for «Gestures of Peace»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2003 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address, delivered today from the window of his study, before the recitation of the midday Angelus and following the celebration of the Mass for the World Day of Peace.

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1. At the beginning of the New Year, we raise our heartfelt gratitude to the Lord for this «new» time, gift of his merciful love, which opens in the name of Jesus and of his Virgin Mother, Mary. Indeed today, the eighth day of the solemnity of Christmas, the feast of the divine maternity of Our Lady is celebrated and the Gospel reminds us that the Child born in the cave of Bethlehem «was given the name Jesus,» which means «God saves.»

Yes! Only from the Lord can the world hope for salvation. Only Christ knows the depth of the heart of man: Each one can fully realize himself by receiving the strength of his grace.

2. Supported by this conviction, believers do not lose hope, even when obstacles and attacks against peace multiply. Some 40 years ago or so, in a context of grave menace to world security, with great courage Blessed John XXIII published the encyclical «Pacem in Terris.»

I wished to refer to this significant event in the Message for today’s World Day of Peace. Today, as then, I have requested each one to make his own contribution to promote and achieve peace, through generous choices of reciprocal understanding, reconciliation, forgiveness and concrete attention to anyone in need. Concrete «gestures of peace» are necessary in families, in places of work, in communities, in the totality of civil life, in national and international social gatherings. Above all, we must never cease praying for peace.

How can one not express once again the hope that among those who are responsible, everything possible will be done to find peaceful solutions to the many tensions present in the world, particularly in the Middle East, avoiding further sufferings to those peoples who have been so tried? May human solidarity and law prevail!

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us entrust this incessant request to Mary, whom we venerate today with the beautiful title of Mother of God. Predestined to be the Mother of the Savior, at the foot of the cross she became the Mother of every human being.

May she obtain for us a serene and fruitful year, during which «gestures of peace» will be multiplied, which always have the character of prophecy, namely, the humility of someone who does not exhibit himself but proclaims the great ideal of peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in seven languages. In English, he said: «to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims I offer cordial good wishes for a New Year filled with God’s blessings of joy and peace. On this feast of the Mother of God, I commend you and your families to Mary’s loving intercession. Happy New Year!»

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