Vatican City (AsiaNews) New Year's greetings draw strength from the birth of the Messiah "who is God's blessing for every man and woman and the entire world". John Paul II said in today's Angelus that peace and victory over evil and tragedies are based on Christ, "our peace". He stressed he felt close to "the communities stricken by the tragic calamity" and said he would "pray for the victims".
The Pontiff praised the international community for the outpouring of compassion and empathy towards the tsunami-stricken peoples of Asia. With God's help, the Pope said, it gives "hope for better days" in 2005, which began today under the auspices of Mary, Mother of God.
John Paul II called on Our Lady to help "all men and women to build peace" which alone can guarantee "justice and fraternal solidarity" in the world.
A huge crowd was gathered in St Peter's Square and in parts of via della Conciliazione to listen to the Pope's Angelus prayer. Among them were members of the Community of Sant'Egidio, who ended their annual peace march in front of John Paul II.
Here are the Pope's remarks before the Angelus:
"We begin the year celebrating Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos. The Holy Virgin offered the world the Messiah who is God's blessing to every man and woman and the entire world.
The greetings that are exchanged today are based on this blessing, greetings of well-wishing because in Christ God fills us with all sorts of good things, greetings of peace "For he is our peace (Eph 2:14).
It is in this liturgical context that today we celebrate World Peace Day whose theme is the apostle Paul's entreaty: "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12:21).
"Evil [. . .] is the result of human freedom" and is defeated when freedom, prompted by grace, firmly turns towards the Good, i.e. God.
May Mary, Queen of Peace, help us all build the fundamental good that is human co-existence. Only thus can the world progress along the paths of justice and fraternal solidarity.
After the prayer, the Pope said:
"Once again I feel close to the communities stricken by the tragic calamity of the last few days.
"In pledging my prayers for the victims and their families I salute the many acts of compassion and empathy taken around the world.
"It is this sense of compassion for fellow humans as well as God's help that give hope for better days in the coming year.
"I greet the young people from the Opera Don Orione, the families from the Movimento dell'Amore Familiare, the friends from Fraterna Domus as well as the many who participated in the peace march organised by the Community of Sant'Egidio.
"Happy New Year to all!"