INTRODUCTION The New Year was welcomed in different ways throughout the world on Friday and Saturday - some traditional and others rather unconventional.
INTRODUCTION The New Year was welcomed in different ways throughout the world on Friday and Saturday - some traditional and others rather unconventional. In the Vatican City, Pope Paul the Sixth,leader of the Roman Catholic Church, repeated his attack on abortion. In Greece, the premier Constantine Karamanlis attend a church service and in Rome a man dived into the Tiber River.
SYNOPSIS: In New york,it was a chilly start to the New year. but people still braved temperatures of about 22 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing (minus 30 degrees Centigrade) to gather in Times Square, on Friday night.
Across the Atlantic thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome to here the Pope's mid-day blessing on Saturday. The leader of the world's 600 million Roman Catholics said the remorse of a woman who deliberately had an abortion could not be eased by any drug or by any law which made the operation legal.
In recent weeks the church has been steeping up its campaign against abortion which a bill which would virtually permit abortion on demand in Italy is before parliament. The bill could become law because the parliament contains a lay majority capable of voting down the church-backed Christian Democrats. The Pope said the recognition of the sacredness of life was peace on its widest and most practical level.
In Athens, the Greek Premier, Constantine Karamanlis and the President, Constantine Tsatsos, attended a New year's church service at the Athens Cathedral. They were accompanied by the chief of the Air Force, Army and Navy as well as opposition party leaders and members of the diplomatic corps. Military Academy cadets and armed forces representatives provided a guard of honour outside the church and the route from the Presidential palace was lined with troops. A large crowd turned out to cheer the dignitaries, but the occasion was marked by strict security.
The Greek government has been criticised recently over the trials of those involved in the country's seven-year military dictatorship. The trials are now over, but many Greeks are not convinced that full justice has been done. Sharp press criticism has followed a supreme court ruling that over 100 civilians who held office at the time, including former Premiers and government ministers, should not be brought to trial.
Although three of the ringleaders were given death sentences, Mr. Karamanlis's government commuted these to life imprisonment, and that caused widespread resentment.
A slightly less traditional way of celebrating the arrival of 1977 took place in Rome. Spartaco Bandini, a 65 year-old fisherman, jumped into the Tiber River. He's carrying on a tradition initiated by a Belgian who had, until two years ago, jumped into the cold waters on special occasions. He was forced to give up because of a heart attack and Mr. bandini took over.