VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul recalled the atrocities of the 20th century on Friday but also hailed an age that enshrined respect for human rights as a universal duty. Celebrating the Roman Catholic Church‘s World Day of Peace in a solemn New Year‘s Day mass in St Peter‘s Basilica, the 78-year-old pontiff lamented what are often considered the most violent 100 years in human history. "When we look at the events of this century drawing to a close, we see before us two world wars, cemeteries, tombs to the fallen, destroyed families, tears and desperation, misery and suffering," he said. "How can we forget the concentration camps, the children of Israel cruelly exterminated, the martyred saints…?" He recalled, among others, Edith Stein, a Jewish-born nun who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and whom he put on the road to sainthood last October. But the Pope, who walked down the aisle of the vast, packed church with a pronounced stoop and looked weary during the 90-minute service, also lauded progress on human rights. "Our century is also the century of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary," he said. The Pontiff, who experienced World War Two at first hand in his native Poland, later addressed pilgrims in a sunny St Peter‘s Square and cited the declaration, signed in 1948. He recalled his own 20-page message for the World Day of Peace, called "Respect for Human Rights: the Secret of True Peace", which he sent to heads of state before Christmas. The Pope has been a tireless crusader for human rights and the poor during his reign, and in his World Peace Day message he said the globalisation of financial markets should not ride roughshod over basic human needs. He began last year by visiting communist Cuba on a ground-breaking trip that led to the release of hundreds of political prisoners. The globe-trotting Pope, who celebrated his 20th anniversary as head of the Roman Catholic Church in October 1998, has become enfeebled by health problems in recent years.