Pope calls for world peace

An ailing Pope John Paul II has called for world peace during a year-end thanksgiving ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

    The pope suffers from Parkinson's disease

    Tight security surrounded St Peter's at Wednesday's service, during

    which the pontiff appeared on relatively good form thanks to a

    lighter workload over the Christmas period

    .

    "Mary, queen of peace, bring us days of peace for the city of

    Rome, for Italy, for Europe and for the whole world," the 83

    year-old pontiff said with marked difficulty due to the Parkinson's

    disease from which he suffers.

    Several thousand worshippers attended the traditional Te Deum at

    which Rome's mayor, on behalf of Roman citizens, gave a present to

    the pontiff as head of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome.

    In his homily, the pope expressed the wish that families and

    above all young married couples should receive encouragement and

    that the family should continue to "correspond to God's project".

    The tight security followed a warning by Italian Prime

    Minister Silvio Berlusconi last Saturday that there might be a

    suicide attack on the Vatican on Christmas Day.

    But after the pope's appearance on Wednesday, apostolic preacher Raniero Cantalamessa said on

    television:

    "Serenity wins the day in the Vatican in the face of such

    threats...

    And the pope is also a courageous man."

    SOURCE: AFP


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