CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 19, 2004 ( Lamenting the attacks on life in the world, John Paul II presented Christ on the cross as God's response to the question of the mystery of evil.

"Why Lord? How long?" the Pope asked before more than 1,000 pilgrims gathered today in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo to pray the midday Angelus.

"In the face of the evil that manifests itself in different ways in the world, man, afflicted and disconcerted, asks: 'Why?'" the Holy Father said.

"At this dawn of the third millennium, blessed by the Great Jubilee and rich in potential, humanity is marked by the distressing spread of terrorism," he added.

"God has responded to this anguished question that arises from the scandal of evil, not with an explanation of principle, as though wishing to justify himself, but with the sacrifice of his own Son on the cross," John Paul II said.

"In Jesus' death are found the apparent triumph of evil and the definitive victory of good; the darkest moment of history and the revelation of divine glory," he explained.

"The cross of Christ is, for believers, [an] icon of hope because on it was accomplished the salvific plan of the love of God," emphasized the Pontiff, who appeared to be in good health although he read the text with some difficulty.

Before concluding, the Pope gave the pilgrims this counsel: "With our gaze fixed on Christ crucified, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary, let us continue on our way, sustained by the power of the resurrection."