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Pope John Paul II Asks Wealthier Nations to Forgive Third World Debt

Aired May 1, 2000 - 1:26 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Pope John Paul II celebrated May Day mass in Rome and called for the business world to respect the rights of all workers. The pontiff also asked for wealthier nations to forgive third-world debt.

CNN's Gayle Young tells us it was an emotion-filled service.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded Pope John Paul II hours after the death of the singer's father. It was an emotional moment in a most unusual day. John Paul II presided over May Day celebrations in Rome that combined religion with politics with entertainment.

Following an annual May Day mass for workers, the pope called for rich countries to ease the burden of debt suffered by developing nations. That in turn was followed by a free concert of top entertainers, also calling for debt relief. The event at a university field on the fringe of Rome drew all types. Giovanni, a flag-carrying union activist from Naples, came to make a point.

"One has to take into account the human aspect and not just capitalist aspirations," he says. And 20-year-old Franco, whose heavy metal clothes attracted heavy attention by security guards, came to have fun.

"I'm not here for the mass or politics. I just want to make some noise," he says.

The pope, looking tired these days, didn't stay for the rock concert, just listened to a few songs and greeted some of the entertainers. Israeli singer Noa covered her bared midriff before approaching the pontiff.

Debt relief for third-world nations may be one of the few moral issues that a conservative religious leader and rock stars have in common.

Gayle Young, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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