VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2006 ( Benedict XVI says that terrorism, nihilism and fanatic fundamentalism are the current threats to world peace.

The Pope's words echoed in St. Peter's Basilica on the first day of 2006, crowded with faithful, during his homily on the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. The Church today also observed World Day of Peace.

"In the face of the situations of injustice and violence that continue to oppress different areas of the earth, in the face of the new and more insidious threats against peace -- terrorism, nihilism and fanatic fundamentalism -- it is more necessary than ever to work together for peace," the Bishop of Rome exclaimed during the homily.

The Holy Father reflected on the ideas he expressed in his first message for a World Day of Peace, the theme of which is "In Truth, Peace."

Benedict XVI appealed for a "thrust of courage and confidence in God and in man to opt for undertaking the way of peace."

"It is something that all must do: individuals and nations, international organizations and world powers," he said.

In particular, the Holy Father referred to the United Nations, calling it to a "new awareness of its responsibility in the promotion of the values of justice, solidarity and peace, in a world ever more marked by the widespread phenomenon of globalization."

Peace, the "great aspiration of the heart of every man and woman, is built day after day with the contribution of all," he stressed.

Lord's blessing

Benedict XVI began his first homily of the year commenting on the biblical blessing which Israel's priests used as invocation on the people at the end of the great liturgical feasts, in particular, in the celebration of the new year.

The Pontiff called on his listeners to "invoke the Lord's blessing on the new year which is taking its first steps so that it will be for us all a year of prosperity and peace."

Attending the concelebrated Mass were ambassadors of 172 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See, in addition to representatives of the Russian Federation, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Order of Malta.

The Mass was accompanied by the signing of 4,000 children, "pueri cantores" from around the world, who on this occasion substituted the Vatican choir of the Sistine Chapel.

Concelebrating with the Pope were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

At the end of the Mass, St. Peter's Square was filled with faithful, who defied the rain to pray the first midday Angelus of the year with the Pope.

Addressing them, the Holy Father reminded them that Jesus showed both the "content" and "method" of peace, "namely, love."