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VATICAN CITY, APR 21, 2002 (VIS) - Following the priestly ordination this
morning in St. Peter's Basilica of 20 deacons of the diocese of Rome, Pope
John Paul greeted the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the
recitation of the Regina Coeli.

He reminded the pilgrims that "following a significant tradition, today,
the fourth Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for
Vocations. This Sunday is also called Good Shepherd Sunday because in the
Gospel Jesus gives Himself this eloquent biblical title. ... I invite
everyone to raise to God a chorus of prayer, especially on this Day, for a
flowering of numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood and consecrated
life among the People of God."

The Holy Father then spoke of the Middle East, saying "our prayers also
continue insistently for the situation in the Holy Land from where,
unfortunately, worrisome news and scenes of destruction continue to arrive.
These are images that are stronger than any appeal and they induce one to
try everything, at all levels, so that this Land, blessed by God, will come
out of the spiral of hatred and violence as soon as possible.

"In particular," he stated, "every day I spiritually visit Bethlehem, and
the Basilica of the Nativity, where I lived unforgettable moments during
the course of my Jubilee pilgrimage. For almost 20 days now the basilica
and connected buildings have been the theatre of clashes, blackmail and
unbearable exchanges of accusations. May that place, and all the holy
sites, be immediately restored to prayer and pilgrims, to God and to man!"
ANG/HOLY LAND/... VIS 20020422 (270)

Courtesy of: Vatican Information Service/Catholic Information Network