Pope John Paul II today made one of his strongest condemnations of the international arms race and modern warfare, declaring that "whether nuclear or not" such warring is "totally unacceptable as a means of settling differences between nations."
The pope, addressing a crowd of 400,000 at an outdoor mass in Coventry on the third day of a six-day visit to Britain, urged leaders of the world "to abandon confrontation and turn their backs on policies that require the nations to spend vast sums of money for weapons of mass destruction."
Later, in Liverpool, a port city blighted by recession, the pope attacked joblessness as a source of "division and even violence" and said the problem "deserves the attention and prayers of all people of good will."
The 61-year-old pontiff's day began with an emotional meeting in London with members of Britain's Polish community, who sang the Polish song "May You Live for 100 Years."
He then flew by helicopter to the heartland city of Coventry, devastated by bombs in World War II, where he delivered an impassioned appeal for world peace to a cheering crowd at an open-air mass.
The city is mourning the loss in the South Atlantic conflict of 21 sailors on a destroyer that bears its name.
The pope's day ended in this northern industrial city, whose population is about 40 percent Roman Catholic, with a motorcade past hundreds of thousands of cheering, flag-waving people, a warm welcome at the Anglican cathedral, a mass at the Catholic cathedral and a meeting with the city's young people.
There was only one sign of the bitterness between Protestants and Catholics (many of whom are Irish immigrants) that has marked recent decades of Liverpool's life. About 100 Protestant extremists led by the Rev. Ian Paisley, one of Northern Ireland's Protestant leaders, demonstrated against the papal visit at the side of the motorcade, waving Bibles and a banner that read "The pope is our enemy." The pope smiled and blessed the demonstrators as dozens of police surrounded them. There was no violence.
At Coventry Airport, the pontiff called for peace, disarmament and the rejection of war in a strong voice that boomed across the airport. He was interrupted frequently by applause from the crowd, basking in uncharacteristically 80-degree sunny weather.
"Our world is disfigured by war and violence," he declared. "People are having to live under the shadow of the nuclear nightmare, yet people everywhere long for peace."
But peace was not just the absence of war, he added. "It involves mutual respect and confidence between peoples and nations. It involves collaboration and binding agreements. Like a cathedral, peace has to be constructed patiently and with unshakeable faith."
The crowd broke into thunderous applause after the pope said, "War should belong to the tragic past, to history, and it should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future."
The pontiff, at an altar set up near a hangar, urged world leaders "to abandon confrontation and turn their backs on policies obliging them to spend vast sums of money on weapons of man's destruction."
The trip to Britain marks the first time the pope has visited a country involved in armed conflict with another. He already has announced plans to fly to Argentina June 11 and 12.
After his sermon, the pope confirmed 26 Catholics ranging in age from 11 to 65.
The pope issued his call for greater action to combat unemployment when he arrived at Liverpool, where more than 16 percent of the work force is jobless as a result of the closure of many docks and factories.
"I know you have experienced this very seriously in Liverpool," the pope told a welcoming crowd of about 150,000, including 5,000 handicapped persons, at Liverpool's Speke Airport. The crowd had waited for more than eight hours to catch a glimpse of the pontiff.
"It is one of the major problems facing society as a whole," he added. "In many countries it has risen sharply and caused hardship to individuals and families. It tends to sow the seeds of bitterness, division and even of violence."
Young people who could not find a job felt "rejected and useless," the pope declared.
"This is a matter of vital importance, and it deserves the attention and prayer of all people of good will."
From Speke Airport, the pope drove in his bulletproof car past hundreds of thousands of cheering people in the biggest demonstration that Liverpool, England's most heavily Catholic city, has ever seen.
Bunting and streamers hung from thousands of windows of modest row houses, and flags in the papal colors of yellow and white fluttered from virtually every pillar and post.
Crowds broke past police barriers at one point in the airport but otherwise security--which cost about $1 million--remained tight.
The pope, ignoring security risks, mingled with the crowds, kissed babies, patted enthralled nuns on the forehead and good-naturedly allowed his hand to be kissed by hundreds of well-wishers. He could see huge graffiti on many walls saying "God Bless Our Pope" and banners saying "J.P. 2, We Love You."
At the Anglican cathedral he was welcomed by the Anglican bishop, the Rev. David Sheppard, a former English cricket star who has established a friendship with his Catholic counterpart, Archbishop Derek Worlock. The two men have been working together actively in trying to help solve Liverpool's problems.
A specially invited interdenominational congregation shouted out "Hip, hip, hooray!" three times and cheered loudly as the pope walked down the main aisle of the vast, gothic-style cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid in 1904 but which was completed only in 1978.
After a brief prayer service, the pope went on to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King, a modernistic circular building with a funnel-shaped central roof, where he received a rapturous welcome.
In his sermon, the pope reaffirmed his strong belief that the church should not abandon the hearing of confession, a rite that has been falling into disuse in many parts of the world.
Addressing priests in the congregation, he said: "For lack of time, certain worthy activities may have to be abandoned or postponed, but not the confessional."