Pope makes New Year's Eve appearance on blustery Rome
Bundled up in a red cloak on an unusually cold Roman night, Pope John Paul II made a midnight New Year's Eve appearance to a cheering crowd and wished the world peace and prosperity.
The window of the Holy Father's studio overlooking St. Peter's Square was opened about 5 minutes past midnight, and the 80-year-old pope appeared, looking and sounding tired.
Fireworks exploded over the hills of Rome as the pope gave his blessing.
Tens of thousands of people had been waiting for him for some two hours as they held a candlelight rally that set the square aglow in shimmering light. Temperatures hovered in the 40s Fahrenheit, chilly for Rome.
"I wish that the new millennium brings to all nations peace, justice, brotherhood and prosperity," he said. "In particular, my thoughts go to the young people, the hope of the future," he added, praying that God "give sense to their existence."
Youth then interrupted his speech with cheers, which the pope acknowledged with a smile and a little wave of his hand.
John Paul prayed that "humanity, which anxiously advances in the new millennium, (be) ever more fraternal and in solidarity."