At the Jubilee for Workers, held on the Tor Vergata University campus on the outskirts of Rome and attended by about 200,000 people, the pope called for a resolution to labor inequality and injustice throughout the world.
Despite technological progress, he said, ``realities such as unemployment, exploitation of minors and low wages persist.'' He warned that ``the organization of labor does not always respect the dignity of the human person, and the universal destination of resources is not always given due consideration.''
Calling on management and employees to address outstanding labor issues, the pope urged the crowd to ``work so that the economic system in which we live does not upset the fundamental order of the priority of work over capital, of the common good over private interest.''
``Globalization is a reality present today in every area of human life, but it is an area which much be managed wisely. Solidarity, too, must become globalized,'' he said.
The festive day began with a Mass presided over by the pope, at his feet thousands of multicolored flowers and behind him a projected image of a crucifix by the 13th-century Italian artist Cimabue.
Some 300 concelebrants and 300 choir members joined the pope on the massive, 1,870-square-yard stage constructed expressly for the jubilee event--a ``cathedral to work,'' as organizers dubbed the open-air structure.
The 79-year-old pontiff, recovering from a heavy schedule the previous day with the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska and an evening prayer service, spoke clearly and forcefully but appeared to tire as the more than three-hour event continued.
Representatives of several countries presented the pope with gifts symbolizing the event's themes, among them a prayer mat from Africa, representing ``a spirituality of labor that respects the religious experiences of all people,'' and a computer from the Americas, recognizing ``new technologies in the service of the integral promotion of men and women.''
The jubilee year encourages the faithful to rediscover ``the meaning and value of work, to face the existing economic and social imbalances in the world of labor, re-establishing the correct hierarchy of values,'' said the pope, who was a factory laborer in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Holy Year 2000 also offers the opportunity ``to open our eyes to the poverty and marginalization, not only of individuals but also of groups and peoples,'' he said.
As he has several times, the pope called on wealthy nations and individuals to reduce or remit the debt of developing countries. ``Here is a jubilee gesture which would be so desirable,'' he said.
Labor delegates from many countries attended the event, including John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, an umbrella group encompassing 68 U.S. unions and more than 13 million workers. The heads of Italian labor unions were seated front and center at the Mass.
This year, they joined forces with the Vatican in promoting the jubilee event and evening musical extravaganza, ``Concert for a Debt-Free World.'' Its star roster included Canadian singer Alanis Morissette, American rocker Lou Reed, the British pop duo the Eurythmics, Israeli singer Noa and Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour.
Vatican officials said they were aware that Reed, formerly of the Velvet Underground, once claimed that he used LSD, heroin and marijuana to keep his equilibrium. They said they had been assured Reed has changed his ways.
The pope praised the cooperation between the church and secular unions, expressing his hope that their common effort at helping poorer nations would help solidarity to ``ring out at this historic encounter.''
Magnifico Palmerino, who rose before dawn to drive to Rome to attend the Jubilee for Workers, said he was pleased at seeing unions and the church work together for a common cause. ``I hope this event brings nonbelievers and believers closer together,'' he said.
As Palmerino spoke, a cross carried by a pilgrim rose above a crowd of union flags flapping in the wind.
Following the Mass, the crowd was treated to classical music pieces performed by Rome's Santa Cecilia Orchestra and sacred arias sung by the Italian pop-opera sensation Andrea Bocelli.
After speeches by Juan Somavia, president of the International Labor Organization, and Paola Bignardi, head of Catholic Action Italy, artists performing later in the evening at the concert, led by Noa, clambered onstage to sing ``Beautiful That Way,'' the theme from the 1999 Oscar-winning movie ``Life Is Beautiful.''
Many saw the Jubilee for Workers as a trial run for World Youth Day, to be held in August at the same site.
The city of Rome and Tor Vergata University have spent $118 million to date to spruce up the campus, and officials said they expected all work to be completed by World Youth Day, which is expected to draw as many as 1 million people to the site.