Pope John Paul II has called for a new international order to solve conflicts and bring peace in the world. The pontiff spoke during a New Year's Day mass at the Vatican.
The pope delivered his entire speech in a strong and clear voice. On the day the Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day, he said, more than ever, a new international order is needed that draws on the experience and results of the United Nations.
His words were a clear reminder of his opposition in 2003 to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the need for a greater role by the United Nations. John Paul added that the new international order must be capable of finding adequate solutions to today's problems, based on the dignity of human beings.
In his New Year's address in the Saint Peter's Basilica, the pope also renewed a call for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He said the land in which Jesus was born sadly continues to live in a distressing condition.
The pope also paid homage to his envoy to Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney, who was shot and killed this week. The envoy died, the pope said, while on a mission to promote dialogue and peace in Burundi.
The New Year's mass was the pope's last major ceremony for this holiday season. The 83-year-old pontiff's schedule for the Christmas and New Year festivities has been reduced this year because of his poor health, but he has appeared in relatively good form at his ceremonies.
Still unclear is whether Pope John Paul will continue to travel abroad in 2004, as he has done during the past 25 years. No trip has yet been confirmed by the Vatican, although there has been talk of a possible visit to Switzerland in the summer.