The Pope expressed this conviction when celebrating Vespers this evening with religious and seminarians of Bavaria and members of the Society for Spiritual Vocations in the Basilica of St. Anne in the Marian shrine of Altoetting.
"God's harvest is indeed great, and it needs laborers," said the Holy Father. "In the so-called Third World -- in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia -- people are waiting for heralds to bring them the Gospel of peace, the good news of God who became man.
"But also in the so-called West, here among us in Germany, and in the vast lands of Russia it is true that a great harvest could be reaped. But there is a lack of people willing to become laborers for God's harvest."
Benedict XVI noted: "The Lord seeks laborers for his harvest. He himself said as much: 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' That is why we are gathered here: to make this urgent request to the Lord of the harvest."
The meeting with the Pontiff thus became a prayer for vocations.
"Today it is as then," he said, "when the Lord was moved with pity for the crowds which seemed like sheep without a shepherd -- people who probably knew how to do many things, but found it hard to make sense of their lives.
"Lord, look upon our troubled times, which need preachers of the Gospel, witnesses to you, persons who can point the way toward 'life in abundance'! Look upon our world and feel pity once more! Look upon our world and send us laborers!
"With this petition we knock on God's door; but with the same petition the Lord is also knocking on the doors of our own heart. Lord do you want me? Is it not perhaps too big for me? Am I too small for this? 'Do not be afraid,' the angel said to Mary. 'Do not fear: I have called you by name,' God says through the Prophet Isaiah to us -- to each of us."
This morning, the Pope celebrated Mass in the square of the shrine, which every year receives more than 1 million pilgrims. Some 60,000 people attended today's Mass.
In his homily, dedicated to Mary, Benedict XVI explained that Christ and his Mother are united in their acceptance of the will of God which the Blessed Virgin makes evident during the annunciation.
At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father inaugurated the shrine's new Adoration Chapel, which he called the "treasury," as "the Church's true treasure" is "the permanent presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament."