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Pope hopes attacks herald fresh era of cooperation

Pope John Paul II has expressed the hope that the "immense tragedy" in the United States will stir the world's conscience and pave the way for a "new era of international cooperation".

The Holy Father strongly expressed this desire on Friday at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, when he received James Nicholson, the new US ambassador to the Vatican, who presented his letters of credence.

"I pray that this inhuman act will awaken in the hearts of the world's peoples a firm resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat everything that sows hatred and division within the human family, and to work for the dawn of a new era of international cooperation inspired in the highest ideals of solidarity, justice and peace," the Pope said.

The meeting, scheduled several weeks ago, came days after the brutal attacks on New York and Washington. The Holy Father spoke of his "profound participation in the grief of the American people" and his "heartfelt prayers for the president and the civil authorities, for all involved in the rescue operations and in helping the survivors and, in a special way, for the victims and their families."

During the meeting, John Paul II said that the moral leadership of the United States in the world "depends on her fidelity to her founding principles", including "solidarity and cooperation between peoples, respect for human rights, the justice that is the indispensable condition for authentic freedom and lasting peace".