By Luke Coppen WORLD peace is possible in the new millennium only if we rediscover our calling to be one family, the Pope said in his first message of the year 2000.
He called for a "complete change of perspective" on the part of individuals and nations, condemned western intervention in Iraq and Kosovo, and pleaded for humanity never to repeat the crimes of the 20th Century.
In his message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, John Paul II said that peace depended on a deeper understanding of our common humanity. 'There will be peace only to the extent that humanity as a whole rediscovers its fundamental calling to be one family," he wrote. "For this to happen, a complete change of perspective will be needed: It is no longer the well-being of any one political, racial or cultural community that must prevail, but rather the good of humanity as a whole." The 79-yearold pontiff, said that the last century had seen "unspeakable suffering".
"In the century we are leaving behind, humanity has been sorely tried by an endless and horrifying sequence of wars, conflicts, genocides and ethnic cleansings," he said. "At the root of so much suffering there lies a logic of supremacy fuelled by the desire to dominate and exploit others, by ideologies of power or totalitarian utopias, by crazed nationalisms or ancient tribal hatreds."
He had sharp words for the western powers, whom he implicitly criticised for intervening in places like Iraq and Kosovo without a proper UN mandate. Although he accepted force was sometimes necessary to protect civilians, he said: 'These measures must be limited in time and precise in their aims. They must be carried out in full respect for international law, guaranteed by an authority that is internationally recognised."
The Pope said each state had a duty "to guarantee the right to humanitarian aid to suffering civilians and refugees." He called it a "paradox of contemporary warfare" that "as recent conflicts have shown, armies enjoy maximinn security, while the civilian population lives in frightening situations of danger".
He claimed that a primary cause of conflict was poverty and called for radical reform of the world economy. "At the beginning of a new century, the one issue which most challenges our human and Christian consciences is the poverty of countless millions of men and women," he said noting that more than 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty.
He challenged rich countries to rethink the purpose of economic activity and to " have as their aim the good of every person and of the whole person".
Relations between rich and poor nations can not "be reduced to aid or assistance, especially if given with an eye to the benefits to be received in return for the resources made available".
The full message can be read on www.catholic-ew.org.uk Rome will see in the Millennium with concerts in three squares, including St Peter's, where the Pope is expected to make an unscheduled appearance from the window of his study when the clock strikes twelve, writes Bruce Johnston.
Sister Ninnala of Calcutta, the Harlem Singers and a choir of 5,000 will perform. A party in the square will follow as the faithful await the benediction of the Pope. From 12 noon until 7am on December 31 a non-stop prayer vigil will be held in the square.