Pope puts faith in millennium
Thursday 02 January 1997
John Paul's traditional greeting, delivered from the balcony of his private apartments in the Vatican, reflected many of his own personal concerns, as he looks back on a long life and searches for the physical strength to survive until 2000.
"May the Holy Virgin, the Mother of God, encourage us to begin this new year with gestures of love and, if necessary, reconciliation, to help build a better world marked by justice and peace," the Pope said. Earlier, while presiding over mass in St Peter's, he made mention of many of the world's persistent trouble spots, from the Middle East to Central Africa.
The 76-year-old pontiff looked in reasonable physical shape following his bout of abdominal surgery in October. He has deliberately taken it relatively easy over the Christmas period, skipping the main mass on 25 December for the first time in his 19-year reign.
He has a typically busy schedule ahead of him in the next 12 months, including trips to the Czech Republic, France, Brazil and possibly Cuba. His recent messages make it clear that he is looking further ahead, to the task he sees as his historical destiny, guiding the Church through 2000.
The Pope sees the millennium as an opportunity to re-evangelise the world and has urged the opening of purses for a programme of church-building, particularly in Rome.
First indications suggest that the jubilee celebrations in Rome will be much more about cashing in on tourism and the construction industry than any spiritual revival. The Pope, however, remains unbowed. In a New Year's Eve service in the Roman Jesuit church of Sant'Ignazio, the Pope said he had "special reason" to give thanks for the past year and the preparations under way for 2000.
The big question is whether he can survive. This most resolute and physically resilient of popes has been diagnosed with a form of Parkinson's disease and has a history of severe abdominal problems.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...