VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul rang in the new year yesterday with a renewed call for peace in the Middle East and Africa and the creation of a new world order based on respect for the dignity of man and equality among nations. John Paul presided over a morning mass inside St. Peter's Basilica to mark the World Day of Peace, which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates every Jan. 1. He appeared in good form, delivering his entire homily in a strong and clear voice despite a tiring holiday schedule.
This year, John Paul directed his thoughts to continuing conflicts around the globe. But he stressed that to bring about peace, there needs to be a new respect for international law and the creation of a "new international order" based on the goals of the United Nations.
He called for "an order that is able to give adequate solutions to today's problems based on the dignity of the human being, on an integral development of society, on solidarity among nations rich and poor, on the sharing of resources and the extraordinary results of scientific and technical progress."
The Pope lamented continuing violence between Israel and the Palestinians and offered prayers for his ambassador to Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney, who was gunned down this week as he returned from a funeral.
Last month, John Paul issued a formal document mark the World Day of Peace in which he called for a reform of the UN and international law to deal with the evolving threat of terrorism.
He said a new respect for international law was the only way to achieve peace and guarantee against the arbitrary use of force. He didn't mention the United States by name, but his message appeared aimed at the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign -- and in particular at Washington's pre-emptive war in Iraq, which was launched without the authorization of the UN.
John Paul was a vocal critic of the Iraq war, dispatching envoys to Washington and Baghdad to try to prevent hostilities from breaking out.