VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II said Wednesday that it is natural for humans to wonder when the world will end, and advised all to await the day with serenity and hope.

``Nowadays, everything happens with incredible speed _ because of the breakthroughs in science and technology and the expanded means of communication,'' the pontiff said at his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square.

``It is therefore natural to question what humanity's destiny is and what its final goal is,'' he said.

The pontiff, who turned 79 last week, told the hundreds of pilgrims who assembled in the square on this perfectly sunny day that the tension surrounding the ``final event'' must be faced with ``calm hope.''