Pope John Paul II, basking in an outpouring of affection from more than 500,000 well-wishers, told African diplomats that the South African system of apartheid "must be overcome" but through reconciliation, not violence.

A private evening meeting with African diplomats and international relief workers Wednesday climaxed a hectic day of sermons, speeches and huge crowds that carried the pope from Lusaka to the country's depressed northern Copper Belt mining area.Everywhere he was greeted by rainbow-hued traditional costumes, tribal dancing, songs and laughter. In the northern town of Kitwe he was showered with gifts of chickens, pumpkins, traditional axes, fruit and gourds.

Turning from scripture to politics, the pope told the diplomats that racism and its expression in "systems of social, economic and political discrimination" such as South Africa's apartheid regime are clearly contrary to the church's teaching of faith and love.