Pope alludes to world's sorrow in Ash Wednesday homily
During this week's ceremony to mark Ash Wednesday in the Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome's Aventine hill, Pope John Paul referred to the sorrow the world has seen in the past year, although he named no specific place or event.
"We have before our eyes and we carry impressed on our souls images of suffering of enormous tragedies," John Paul said. "We also feel the weight of the bewilderment of so many men and women in the face of the sorrow of the innocents and of the contradictions of today's humanity."
"We need the help of the Lord to gain back faith and the joy of life," said the Holy Father.
He expressed hope that Lent would be a time of "profound reconciliation with God, with ourselves and with our brothers".
"Remember that you are ashes, and to ashes you will return," John Paul told the congregation.
As the pope bowed his head, a cardinal dabbed ashes on his silver-white, thin hair.
Then the pope, sitting in his chair, put ashes on the heads of those faithful who came up, one by one, and leaned over in front of him.