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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Pope John Paul II Hopes for World Peace in the New Millennium

Aired January 1, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: The Catholic church has designated January 1st as World Peace Day, and in Rome, Pope John Paul II today offered the hope that peace will take hold around the world.

CNN's Brent Sadler has more on new year's observances at the Vatican.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pages of Vatican history turn into the third Christian millennium, an eternal flame from the Holy Land carried into St. Peter's square packed with around 120,000 people, some reflective, some smiling.

Pope John Paul II makes an unprecedented new year's appearance at midnight. He catches a glimpse of the explosive spectacle before his blessing. Long hours and little rest for Pope John Paul -- increased walking difficulties were clear to see. In St. Peter's basilica, on a rolling platform he glides through adoring worshipers, his determination to lead the Roman Catholic church into the year 2000 now fulfilled.

MARCO POLITI, PAPAL HISTORIAN: Certainly for him it is difficult to perform his duties. As long as his heart is OK, everything will be OK.

SADLER: In a season filled with symbolism and ceremony, the 79- year-old pope opened the holy doors of St. Mary Major, a rare event marking the church's jubilee celebrations and holy pilgrimage.

(on camera): The 2000 jubilee year is expected to bring around 30 billion visitors to the Italian capital. Pilgrims must visit all of Rome's four patriarchal basilicas, where the holy doors are situated, to free themselves from punishment for sin.

(voice-over): In St. Peter's square the pope makes another public appearance amid preparations for the city's marathon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been a dream for me to do something different on new year's day, and to run the first marathon of the millennium.

SADLER: In his new year message, Pope John Paul praised technological triumphs of the 20th century, but asked forgiveness for the way it also damaged mankind.

As for papal stamina, the pope has gone the distance seeing in the new year, and watching thousands of marathon race runners pound the capital streets for the millennium change.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Rome.

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