VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2003 ( When conferring the pallium on 40 metropolitan archbishops from around the world, John Paul II exhorted them to watch over their respective communities in imitation of the Good Shepherd.

During a Mass on Sunday evening in St. Peter's Square, the Pope referred to Sts. Peter and Paul -- whose solemnity the Church celebrated that day -- as "friends of the Lord," for whom they gave their life in Rome, "making the Church fruitful with their blood."

"Peter and Paul are 'friends of the Lord,' a singular title because they drank the Lord's chalice. For both, Jesus changed their names the moment he called them to his service," he said.

"If we think of the vocation and personal history of the two apostles, we see how the apostolic and missionary charge was proportioned to the depth of their conversion. Tested by the bitter experience of human misery, they were delivered by the Lord," the Pope said during his homily.

"Thanks to the humiliation of the denial and the weeping that purified him interiorly, Simon became Peter, namely, the rock. Consolidated by the power of the Spirit, three times he declared his love to Jesus, receiving the mandate to look after the flock," he said.

"Saul's experience was similar," the Pope said. "The Lord whom he persecuted called him through his grace on the road to Damascus. He freed him from his prejudices, transforming him radically and made him a chosen instrument to take his name to the Gentiles."

"In this way, both became friends of the Lord," the Holy Father told the metropolitan archbishops, adding that the "personal circumstances of each one are different, but you have all been counted by Christ among his friends."

"In the name of the Lord -- I invite you -- become on your part 'friends' of all those God has entrusted to you. Your episcopal sees are in different areas of the world: In imitation of the Good Shepherd, watch and be diligent with everyone in your community," he added.

Henceforth, the 40 metropolitan archbishops will wear the pallium during solemn celebrations as a sign of communion with the Apostolic See. "I invite you to consider it always in remembrance of the sublime friendship with Christ, which we have the honor and joy to share," the Holy Father concluded.