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Pope tells diplomats: Do not be afraid

Pope John Paul II yesterday addressed the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, urging them not to let themselves become overwhelmed by fear in these 'dark' times.

He observed: "Many of those who have lived through the great movement towards freedom and the changes of the 90s are surprised to find themselves gripped today by fear of a future which has once again become uncertain."

The Holy Father referred to the 11 September terrorist attack, as well as the escalation in hostilities in both the Holy Land and in relations between India and Pakistan.

He highlighted the optimism of the establishment of an 'African Union' in the midst of the decimation of the continent's population by HIV-AIDS.

The Pope made particular reference also to adversity in Latin America: "I wish to encourage the people of Latin America, and of Argentina in particular, to hold on to hope amid the present difficulties, and not to lose sight of the fact that, given the great human and natural resources available, the present situation is not irreversible and can be overcome with everyone's help."