John Paul II Prays for a Year of Peace, Family Unity and Vocations

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II closed out 2003 by presiding at a thanksgiving "Te Deum" and praying that the new year would bring peace, family unity, and vocations to the consecrated life.



Amid thousands of pilgrims who filled St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday, the Pope read his homily in a clear voice, and ended by imploring for peace "for the whole world."

Addressing his prayer through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father had prayed earlier for the work the Church carries out in service "of the family, young people, and vocations of special consecration."

"May families respond ever more fully to the plan God has always had for them!" the Pope exclaimed.

With the year 2004 in mind, he appealed to the faithful to invoke "the maternal protection of Most Holy Mary, to ask her to continue to guide our way."

Pilgrims arrived in the early hours to attend the "Te Deum," ignoring rumors of possible terrorist attacks against the Vatican.