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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 02:31 GMT
Pope's plea for 2000 peace
The Pope gave his New Year address to roaring crowds
Pope John Paul II has wished peace to the world, as he hailed the new millennium in an unprecedented address to St Peter's Square.

"A Happy New Year to all of you, men and women of every part of the world," he said from his window overlooking the Vatican piazza.

Into 2000
"I wish you a year filled with peace, the peace proclaimed by the angels on the holy night; the peace of Christ, who out of love became a brother to every human being."

He added: "I wish you a year filled with serenity and happiness: may you always be certain of God's love for us.

"I ask Him to bless this moment of festivity and good wishes, that it may be the promising beginning of a new millennium filled with joy and peace," he said.

As he spoke, an estimated 120,000 people packed into the square roared their approval and fireworks lit up the night sky.


What suffering, what dramatic events! But, also, what incredible achievements

Pope John Paul II
The occasion was the first time that the frail 79-year-old pontiff had addressed the public at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Crowds were also drawn by the first rock concert in St Peter's Square, which ended just before the Pope's address.

Earlier in the evening, the Pope bade a mixed farewell to the old millennium, giving thanks for spiritual, cultural and scientific advances but asking forgiveness for humanity's many sins.

the pope at st peter's basilica
Mixed farewell to the old millennium
Speaking at a traditional end-of-year Te Deum (To You Lord) service in St Peter's Basilica, he picked out the discovery of America as one of the defining moments of the past 1,000 years.

"What was the geography of countries, the situation of peoples and nations like 1,000 years ago?

"Who was aware of the existence of another great continent to the west of the Atlantic Ocean?"

He told the solemn mass that "the discovery of America, which opened a new era in the history of humanity, constituted without doubt an important element in the review of the millennium".

The Pope said the 20th Century could not end without remembering the "deep and sometimes rapid upheavals that have marked culture and links between people.

the pope on his chariot-mobile
The frail 79-year-old stood on a "chariot" for the church service
"You only have to think about the stifling ideologies that caused so many victims," he said.

"What suffering, what dramatic events! But, also, what incredible achievements."

The Pope expressed gratitude for the many "exciting conquests" achieved by humanity "in the fields of science and technology, the arts and culture".

But he added: "At the same time we...ask forgiveness because, unfortunately, it has not been rare that the conquests of technology and science, so important for genuine human progress, have been used against man."

See also:

31 Dec 99 | In Depth
26 Dec 99 | UK
24 Dec 99 | Europe
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