VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II (search) shooed a dove — a symbol of peace — out his apartment window Sunday, chuckling with children who watched in delight as the bird flew back into his room overlooking St. Peter's Square (search).
The pontiff was addressing thousands of young people from an Italian Catholic organization who marked January as a month to promote peace.
He was flanked at his studio window by a pair of 8-year-olds — a boy and girl — who urged the world to remember children who live in countries wracked by war.
John Paul prayed that young people, "who so desire peace, become courageous and tenacious builders" of peace.
Each of the children at his side sent a dove flying, but the white birds, perhaps alarmed by Rome's unusual cold spell, almost immediately darted back into his studio.
Laughing, the 84-year-old ailing pontiff seemed determined to set the symbol free. He grabbed one of the doves as an aide returned the birds to the window sill, and he shooed it out the window and playfully patted the boy on the head.
After a quick flight over the square, the bird quickly fluttered inside again as the pope grinned.