VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2002 ( John Paul II called for a "conversion" that leads to a responsible use of the world's resources, and he also praised the work of farmers for society.

Before praying the Angelus at midday today with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope called for "a radical cultural change ... from the indiscriminate use of resources to a responsible administration of the goods offered to us by creation."

The papal appeal took place on the Day of Thanksgiving in Italy, promoted by the National Confederation of Farmers.

"It is beautiful and proper to thank God for the gifts received in the course of the year and to be thankful to the men and women who reap them from the earth with their work," John Paul II said.

"Farmers, often hardly acknowledged in industrial societies, instead merit common appreciation for the essential service they render to the entire human family," he stressed.

"The protection of creation is a commitment for which all must feel responsible," the Pope added, as "we must never forget that the earth belongs to God, though put in man's hands to govern it."

Lastly, the Holy Father recalled that 2002 has been declared by the United Nations as the "Year of the Mountain."

"Mountains are always able to fascinate the human spirit, to the point of being considered in the Bible as the privileged place for encountering God," he said. "So they become the symbol of man's ascent to the Creator."

"However, mountains are not just places of rest and vacation: For many people they are the realm of daily effort, endured not rarely in solitude and isolation," said John Paul II, who since his youth has been an avid mountaineer.

"Mountains are the patrimony of all, and must be respected, loved and carefully protected by all," he added. "They are, in fact, a common good, whose integrity is precious for the whole of humanity."