VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2004 ( John Paul II urged the mobilization of all Catholic communities to defend human life, especially that of the unborn, "not against the mothers, but together with the mothers."

"We must not be resigned to attacks on human life, above all, abortion!" the Pope said before praying the Angelus today with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. The occasion was Pro-Life Day in Italy.

Efforts must be expanded "so that the right of life of yet unborn children is affirmed not against the mothers, but together with the mothers," the Holy Father added.

"The cultural and social context very often does not favor the family and the mission of parents," John Paul II noted.

"Moreover, not a few parents would like to have more children, but are almost constrained not to do so because of financial difficulties," he said. "The assistance of public institutions, though appreciable, is often insufficient. There is a need for a more organic policy in favor of the family."

"The family nucleus, which ensues from marriage, is the fundamental cell of society," the Pope added. "Within it, as in a reassuring nest, life must always be promoted, defended and protected, and today's Pro-Life Day reminds all of this fundamental duty."

In this mobilization in favor of human life, the Pontiff publicly expressed his "appreciation for the courageous support that the Pro-Life Movement in Italy offers this cause," and he exhorted "every ecclesial community to support its initiatives and services."

The Pope also requested prayers for families "so that, trusting in divine help, they will be committed to carry out with joy and dedication their wonderful mission to give humanity a future rich in hope."

After the Angelus, John Paul II greeted some 1,000 young immigrants who live in the southern Italian town of Caserta and encouraged the work of those dedicated to resolving these people's situation, "who endure so many sufferings and problems."