VATICAN CITY, MAR. 21, 2001 ( John Paul II appealed energetically today for an end to all forms of discrimination, whether racial, ethnic, religious or social.

The Pope made this appeal at the end of this morning´s general audience, held in St. Peter´s Square. March 21, in fact, is the day the United Nations celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This is a date, the Pope added, "which marks the beginning of a week of solidarity with all those who struggle against such injustice."

"The international agreements adopted, the world conferences, and in particular the next one, which will be held in Durban [South Africa], in the month of September of this year, are important stages on the road toward the affirmation of the fundamental equality and dignity of every person, and for peaceful coexistence among all peoples," the Bishop of Rome emphasized.

However, "despite these efforts, millions of human beings continue without seeing their right to citizenship recognized in the heart of the human family."

"The Church joins in the commitment of all those who defend human rights and is in solidarity with all those who for racial, ethnic, religious and social reasons are victims of discrimination," the Holy Father stated.

He continued: "The spiritual and religious values, with their capacity to renew, contribute effectively to improve society. It is necessary that [the action] of religious communities be joined to the commendable action of governments and international organizations in this field."

"Therefore, I wish to repeat that no one is a stranger in the Church; all must feel at home!" he exclaimed. "The Church must become the home and school of communion, a concrete response to the expectations of justice in today´s world."