Address on World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Before Reciting Regina Caeli

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 21, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Following an ordination Mass, John Paul II appeared at midday at the window of his study and appealed for prayers for all priests and for the Holy Land. Here is a translation of the address he gave before reciting the Regina Caeli.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. This morning, I ordained 20 new priests of the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter´s Basilica. I renew my cordial greetings to them, which I also extend to their relatives and those who are with them on this unique and unforgettable day. Dear new priests, if the young are the hope of the Church, how much more so are you, young priests! This is why I address to you, especially, the words that, as you know, are the theme of the next World Youth Day: "You are the salt of the earth. ... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13).

2. In keeping with a significant tradition, today, the Fourth Sunday of Eastertide, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is observed. This Sunday is known as that "of the Good Shepherd," because in the Gospel Jesus attributes to himself this eloquent biblical title. With eyes fixed on him, I pray for all the priests who were or will be consecrated during this year, so that they will give a valid witness of the Good Shepherd with the holiness of their life and ministry. I invite all to raise a united invocation to God, especially on this day, so that numerous and holy vocations will flower to the priesthood and consecrated life.

3. Our intense prayer also continues for the situation in the Holy Land from whence, unfortunately, worrying news and images of destruction do not cease to arrive. They are images that are more forceful than any appeal and demand that no attempt be neglected at every level so that that land, blessed by God, be extricated as soon as possible from the spiral of hatred and violence.

Every day, in particular, I go to Bethlehem spiritually, to the Basilica of the Nativity, where I lived through unforgettable moments in the course of my Jubilee pilgrimage. For almost 20 days, the basilica and adjacent buildings have been the scene of clashes, blackmail and unbearable mutual accusations. May that place, and all holy places soon be restored to prayer and pilgrims, to God and man!

May Mary Most Holy obtain for the parties in conflict the courage of peace, and for the international community the tenacity of solidarity. May Israelis and Palestinians be able to learn to live together, and may the Holy Land at last return to being a sacred land and a land of peace!

[Translation by ZENIT]