| THE NEW YEAR SHOULD BE THE DAWN OF A MILLENNIUM OF PEACE
|| John Paul II Opens Holy Door at St. Mary Major
ROME, JAN 1 (ZENIT).- On the first day of 2000, John Paul II examined the questions raised
by this symbolic date in his homily after opening the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. Mary
"In what direction will the great human family set out?" asked the Holy Father. His prayer is that
it will be along the path of peace. Thus he prayed in this, the first Western church dedicated to
the Blessed Virgin Mary, that the world would entrust itself to the Mother of God in the coming
Before the ceremony, the Basilica was already packed. The ceremony began at 9:30 with the
opening of the door. The readings and prayers of the Mass focused on the nead for peace.
The commentary before the entrance procession asked God for the gift of peace so that "the
year that is beginning may be the dawn of a new millennium."
In his homily, John Paul II stated, "Year 2000, which comes to meet us, may Christ give you
peace!" He then recalled the day of prayer for peace that was held in Assisi in October, 1986.
Even though it was in the height of the Cold War, that meeting drew leaders from all the major
religions of the world.
"We gathered together and prayed to remove the serious threat of a conflict that it seemed was
about to come upon humanity. In a certain sense, we gave voice to the prayer of all people, and
God accepted the prayer raised by his children," the Pope recalled. "Even though we must admit
that there are still many dangerous local and regional conflicts, the worldwide confrontation that
seemed on the horizon never happened."
The prayers of the faithful were recited in various languages, among which were Hebrew and
Arabic. One asked Christ for a new climate constructed out of values taken from Christians of
the East and West: hope and peace. Another remembered those responsible for nations and
international organizations, praying that "they always follow the road of negotiation, mediation,
and pacification," and that "in the light of the Good News of Bethlehem, they may think of the
poor as the subjects and main players of a new future."
At the end of the celebration, John Paul II returned to the Vatican to pray the "Angelus" in St.
Peter's Square. Among the gathered pilgrims were the runners of the Roman Marathon. "May
the new year and the new millenium be as beautiful as today," added John Paul II.