For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2660
Release Date:    12 September 2000
 Secretary-General Says Convergence of Jubilee Year, Millennium Summit,
Is “Moment of Potent Symbolism” 

NEW YORK, 11 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks delivered today at the annual prayer service at New York’s Holy Family Church by Secretary-General Kofi Annan: 

It is a pleasure to join you again for this annual prayer service.

I would like to begin by acknowledging someone who is not here:  the late Cardinal O'Connor, whose passing earlier this year we continue to mourn.  I know how much he would have wanted to be at the summit of religious leaders two weeks ago.  But he was with us in spirit and remains so now.

We gather at a moment of potent symbolism.  For Catholics, it is the Jubilee Year.  For the United Nations, the millennium year has been a time to take stock of the state of the world and to assess the role the Organization can play in meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century. 

We have had a series of extraordinary events.  At their forum in May, civil society groups set out their vision of a just, sustainable and peaceful world.  Two weeks ago, the leaders of the world's parliaments showed the crucial role they play in linking the local and the global.  And last week's Millennium Summit was truly unprecedented.  I was particularly moved by the group photograph; together, as we talk and hope as one human family, we are stronger.

The religious summit has also left its mark.  Although His Holiness Pope John Paul II could not be there, his message resonated widely.  "The only religion worthy of the name", he said, "is the religion that leads to peace…  True religion is mocked when it is tied to conflict and violence."  The Declaration adopted by the religious and spiritual leaders reflects that same spirit and commits them to doing all they can for global harmony and peace.

The presidents, prime ministers, kings and others have come and gone.  Now it is time to get down to work; to translate words into action; to turn from symbols to deeds; to turn promises into political will.  We shall continue to need your prayers and support as we move forward.

The nineteenth century American clergyman Phillips Brooks once told his congregation, "Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.  Pray for powers equal to your tasks".  Let this prayer service help the international community rise to the challenges before us.

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