VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2004 ( John Paul II invites priests to be apostles and to strive for holiness in a televised message for the participants in an international congress for priests in Malta.

“The Church needs holy priests, who at the same time form others to be saints for the new millennium,” said the Pope to the International Convention of Priests in Malta that gathered more than 1,000 priests from 80 countries. The congress is meeting Oct. 18-23.

“God invites you to be apostles before all else with the holiness of your life,” he explained. “It is up to you to make the word of truth of the Gospel resound everywhere, the word that in and of itself has the capacity to profoundly change the heart of man and give him peace.”

“If you let yourself be conquered by Christ, like the apostle Paul, you will also be able to proclaim to the world the infinite mercy of the heavenly father,” he affirmed. “You will become credible teachers of life lived according to the Gospel and prophets of hope.”

“In an anxious and divided world, marked by violence and conflict, some ask if it is still possible to speak of hope. But it is precisely in this moment that it is indispensable to bravely present the truth and the fullness of hope, that is Christ our Lord,” he said.

For more information on the congress and to watch the televised interventions, visit the site of the Congregation for the Clergy.