VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2002 ( John Paul II insists that the vocations crisis being faced by some dioceses and religious congregations must not lower the level of formation of future priests.

"The decrease in seminarians and missionary vocations must not attenuate the quality of discernment, nor the spiritual and moral exigencies required by the priestly ministry," the Pontiff wrote in a message published Friday.

"The proclamation of the Gospel to the men and women of our time calls for faithful witnesses, inspired by the Spirit of holiness, who are signs for their brothers through the force of their word and, above all, the authenticity of their lives," the Pope added.

John Paul II made this appeal in a message sent to Father Pierre Shouver, superior general of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, which next year will celebrate its third centenary.

The congregation has 3,000 religious, including 2,300 priests. This religious family has a missionary character; it has directed the pastoral service of the poor and marginalized, and promoted vocations among young churches.

For this reason, it was entrusted with the direction of the French College in Rome, where seminarians and priests of French dioceses study.

Like many dioceses or other religious families, this congregation is experiencing the crisis of too-few vocations in some countries.

The Pope urged the congregation to "help seminarians to prepare themselves for their ministry with a human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation that will enable them to be integrated in the ecclesial life of their dioceses."