VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict ushered in the first New Year of his papacy on Sunday urging humanity to take a leap of faith in God to prevent terrorism, nihilism and fanatical fundamentalism undermining peace.
The Pope addressed his homily to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for New Year’s Day mass, celebrated on the Roman Catholic Church’s annual World Day of Peace.
The German Pontiff also called on the United Nations to fulfil its responsibilities to promote justice, peace and solidarity in an increasingly globalized world.
“Terrorism, nihilism and fanatical fundamentalism -- faced with these threats, it becomes more than necessary to work together for peace,” the Pope said.
“There is the need for a leap of courage and faith in God and mankind to choose the path to peace.”
Terrorism was an important theme in the Pope’s 12-page World Day of Peace message, which was issued last December and sent to heads of state and government and to international organizations around the world for Jan. 1.
Pope alludes to prisoner abuse
In the message, entitled “In Truth, Peace,” he also said war could not be an excuse for disregarding international humanitarian law.
The Pope did not name any countries or wars, but his words chimed with reports of abuse of prisoners by the United States in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay.
The reports have incensed adversaries of the United States and alienated some of its allies. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came under pressure in Europe last month over reports that the CIA had set up secret prisons on the continent.
After the mass, the Pope addressed pilgrims huddled under umbrellas in a rainy St. Peter’s Square. He spoke to them in seven languages, including Polish -- the language of his predecessor, John Paul II, who died in April.
The next major event on Benedict’s calendar is a mass on the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6.
In early January, he is due to publish his first encyclical, a major writing addressed to all Church members, addressing the individual’s personal relationship with God.
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