January 3, 2000
volume 11, no. 1
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

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 Major.

    "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 centuries.

    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 sence, 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. ZE00010106


January 3, 2000
volume 10, no. 1

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