During the Regina Caeli, Benedict XVI makes a “pressing appeal” on behalf of the two Mediterranean nations. Today, Sunday of the Good Shepherd and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, “it comes natural to remind God about the pastors of the Church and those who are training to be pastors.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The dramatic events that have traumatised North Africa and the Middle East have moved Benedict XVI to make a “pressing appeal” for “dialogue” in Libya and call for a stop to the “bloodshed” in Syria. He made the request before a gathering of 20,000 people in Saint Peter’s Square who took part in the Regina Caeli on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

This is a day in which the Gospel “presents us with one of the most beautiful icons that, since the first centuries of the Church, portrays the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd” so that “it comes natural to remind God about the pastors of the Church and those who are training to be pastors. I therefore urge you to say a special prayers for the bishops, including the bishop of Rome, as well as parish priests and all those who are responsible for the flock of Christ, so that may be faithful and wise in performing their ministry. In particular, let us pray for vocations to the priesthood, so that we may never be in want of good workers in the harvest of the Lord.”  
In his message for World Day, the Pontiff stressed that a vocation always comes about when those who follow leave behind “their own narrow agenda and notions of self-fulfilment in order to immerse themselves in another will, the will of God, and to be guided by it.” Even today, when so many other voices threaten to drown out the word of the Lord, the ecclesial community is called to promote and take care of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Men always need God, even in our technological world. There will always be a need for pastors who proclaim his Word and allow people to meet the Lord in the Sacraments.
After the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI turned his attention to the dramatic situation in Libya and Syria. “I continue to follow with great apprehension the tragic armed conflict that has caused a large number of victims and a lot of suffering in Libya, especially among the civilian population,” the pope said. “I renew a pressing appeal so that the path of negotiations and dialogue may prevail over that of violence, with the help of international organisations that are looking for a solution to the crisis. I also offer my prayers and moved participation to the work the local Church is carrying out on behalf of the population, in particular the consecrated people present in hospitals.”
“My thoughts also go to Syria,” he added, “where it is urgent to restore coexistence based on harmony and unity. I call on God to stop any further bloodshed in this homeland of great religions and civilisations. I urge the authorities and all its citizens to spare no effort in finding the common good and in meeting everyone’s legitimate aspirations for a future of peace and stability.”

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