Pope John Paul II ended the first day of his visit to the nation's capital last night by quoting Pope Paul VI, and urging an audience of more than 200 diplomats and their guests to work for peace and human rights throughout the world.

"Diplomacy is the art of making peace," the pope told the gathering at a diplomatic reception held in the headquarters of the Apostolic delegation to the United States, 3339 Massachusetts Ave, NW.

Reiterating statements he had made upon becoming pope last year, he said, "The fundamental duty of power is solicitude for the common good of society; this is what gives power its fundamental rights."

The pontiff's final address of the day was low key and general in comparison to his sharp denunciations of human rights violations earlier in the day in his address to the Organization of American States.

The pope delivered the 15-minute apostolic speech in French, and was politely applauded.

Outside of the building, which houses the Vatican's representative to the United States, a crowd of nearly 3,000 persons serenaded the meeting. Songs ranged from "Ave Maria" to "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" -- with the words changed to "When the Pope Comes Marching Out."

But aside from taking time to greet the crowds when he arrived, the pope did not come out after the reception, disappointing those who applauded each time a white robe become visible in the doorway. Instead, he stayed inside the building and dined with delegation members and guests, and later retired after a hectic day that had begun in Chicago.

While serenaders sang to the pope, within earshot of Vice President Mondale's residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory, a separate group of about 200 persons gathered about 8:30 p.m. for a candlelight vigil outside the delegation office. They were protesting the pope's declaration that women would not be allowed to become priests in the church.

One vigilist who identified herself as Joan Mondale -- she was not the vice president's wife -- said, "we want to greet the pope and raise the issue of sexism in the church. It's a church we love and a church we'd like to see healed.

In his speech, the pope said, "The desire for peace is universal. It is embedded in the hearts of all human beings and it cannot be achieved unless the human person is placed at the center of every effort to bring about unity and brotherhood among nations."

The pontiff made no references to individual countries or persons.