VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2003 ( John Paul II appealed once again to the faithful to pray for the family and for peace in the Holy Land.

Greeting the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square today, the Pope reminded them about the two intentions he proposed for this Year of the Rosary.

First, it is necessary to pray for the family, "unfortunately, seriously menaced in its fundamental principles and values," the Holy Father said.

Second, he asked for prayer for "peace in the world, with special reference to the Holy Land."

"The Lord willing, despite the fierce violence that continues to rage and that offends God and man, may the search for just, negotiated solutions be reinforced to ensure serenity and peace for all peoples," he continued.

The Pope was speaking on the day that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon succeeded in having his Cabinet approve a Mideast peace plan that was proposed by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Among other things, the plan seeks the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Radio Israel reported. The 23-member Cabinet voted 12-7, with four abstentions, to OK "steps defined by the road map" peace plan and not the entire document, the Associated Press said.

When he met with the faithful, the Pope said that he hoped this year would serve to rediscover and value the rosary as a contemplative prayer centered on Christ.

Recalling the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the apostles on Pentecost, the Pope added: "It can be said that the prayer of the rosary was born in the Cenacle, because there the first Christians began to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ, recalling the different moments of his earthly life."