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Sunday, June 3, 2012


Vatican City, 3 June 2012 (VIS) - In the archbishopric of Milan yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father met with representatives from the civil and military authorities, industrialists and workers, and exponents of the world of culture in the Italian region of Lombardy.

Benedict XVI focused his remarks on the principles of good government as laid down by St. Ambrose who, based in Milan, governed the Roman provinces of Liguria and Aemilia in the fourth century. These principles "are still important" for leaders today, the Pope said. The first quality of people in power must be justice, "the public virtue par excellence because it concerns the good of the entire community". Justice has to be accompanied by love of freedom, something which distinguishes good governors from bad ones. "Freedom is ... a precious right which must be guaranteed by the civil authorities. However, freedom does not mean the will of the individual but the responsibility of everyone. One of the principle elements of the secular State is to ensure freedom so that everyone can present their own vision of social life, but always while respecting others and in the context of laws which seek the good of all".

In order to guarantee the common good the laws of State "must draw justification and strength from natural law, which is the foundation for a social order adapted to the dignity of the human person". An exclusively positivist view of law cannot provide ethical guidance. The State must serve and protect the individual in all aspects, "beginning with the right to life, which must never be deliberately suppressed". It is also called "to recognise the specific identity of the family, founded on marriage and open to life, and the right of parents freely to choose the education and formation of their children. ... The State fails to do justice to families if it does not support freedom of education for the good of all society", the Pope said.

The Church offers her collaboration to the State, each with their own role and their own goals, through her doctrine, traditions, institutions and activities, by virtue of which she places herself at the service of people. "Suffice it to think of the many shining figures of saints of charity, of schools and of culture, saints who cared for the sick and the marginalised with the same service and love with which we would serve and love the Lord. ... Christian communities promote these actions ... as a gratuitous superabundance of Christ's charity and of the all-embracing experience of their faith. Apart from courageous technical and political decisions, the crisis we are going through also has need of gratuitousness".

Finally Benedict XVI recalled the fact that St. Ambrose advised people in positions of power to ensure they were loved. "That which love does can never be done by fear", he said, quoting the saint. The reasons that move people to enter into public life "cannot but be", he told his audience, "the desire to dedicate yourselves to the good of citizens, and therefore a clear expression and evident sign of love. In this way politics is ennobled and becomes an exalted form of charity".


Vatican City, 3 June 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, almost half a million people attended the "Celebration of Witnesses" at Bresso Park in Milan, Italy, one of events of the seventh World Meeting of Families. The Holy Father arrived at 8.30 p.m. to participate in the celebration during which he answered questions put to him by various families on subjects which included the economic crisis, the position of divorced people in the Church and the indissolubility of Marriage. Benedict XVI also recalled his own infancy and family life.

An engaged couple from Madagascar who are studying at university in Italy spoke of the anxiety they felt when faced with the "forever" of Marriage. The Pope explained that falling in love, being an emotion, is not eternal. "The emotion of love must be purified", he said, "it must undertake a journey of discernment in which the mind and the will also come into play. ... In the rite of Marriage the Church does not ask whether you are in love but whether you want, whether you are resolved. In other words, falling in love must become true love; it must involve the will and the mind in a journey (which is the period of engagement) of purification, of greater profundity so that it is truly all of man, with all his capacities, with the discernment of reason and the force of will, who says: 'Yes, this is my life'". The Holy Father also mentioned other important factors such as communion of life with others, with friends, the Church, the faith and God Himself.

A Brazilian family raised the issue of divorced couples who have remarried and cannot avail themselves of the Sacraments. Benedict XVI affirmed that "this is one of the the great causes of suffering for the Church today, and we do not have simple solutions. ... Naturally, one very important factor is prevention. This means ensuring that, from the beginning, the act of falling love is transformed in a more profound and mature decision. Another factor is that of accompanying people during marriage, to ensure that families are never alone but find authentic company on their journey. We must tell people in this situation that the Church loves them, but they must see and feel this love". Parishes and other Catholic communities "must do everything possible so that such people feel loved and accepted, that they are not 'outsiders' even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist. They must see that they too live fully within the Church. ... The Eucharist is real and shared if people truly enter into communion with the Body of Christ. Even without the 'corporeal' assumption of the Sacrament, we can be spiritually united to Christ". It is important for divorced couples "to have the chance to live a life of faith, ... to see that their suffering is a gift for the Church, because they also help others to defend the stability of love, of Marriage; ... theirs is a suffering in the community of the Church for the great values of our faith".

A Greek family asked the Pope what families affected by the economic crisis can do not to lose hope. "Words are insufficient", the Holy Father replied. "We should do something tangible and we all suffer because we are unable to do so. First let us speak of politics. I believe that all parties should show an increased sense of responsibility, that they should not make promises they cannot keep, that they should not seek votes only for themselves but show responsibility for the common good of everyone, in the awareness that politics is also a human and moral responsibility before God and man". Moreover, each of must do everything we can "with a great sense of responsibility and in the knowledge that sacrifices are necessary if we are to prevail". The Holy Father also suggested that families help one another, and that parishes and cities do likewise, supporting one another with material assistance and never forgetting to pray.

A seven year old girl from Vietnam asked the Pope to say something about his own family and infancy. Benedict XVI recalled the essential importance Sunday had had for his family. "Sunday began on Saturday afternoon when my father would tell us the Sunday readings. ... Thus we entered into the liturgy in an atmosphere of joy. The next day we would go to Mass. I lived near Salzburg so there was always music - Mozart, Schubert, Haydn - and when the 'Kyrie' began it was as if the sky itself had opened. ... We were of one heart and soul, with many shared experiences even through difficult times because there was the war and before that the dictatorship, then poverty. But the reciprocal love that existed between us, the joy in simple things was so strong that we could bear and overcome these things. ...Thus we grew up in the certainty that it is good to be human, because we could see the goodness of God reflected in parents and siblings. ... In this context of trust, joy and love we were happy and I think that heaven must be similar to my youth. In this sense I hope 'to go home' when I go 'to the other part of the world'".


Vatican City, 3 June 2012 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at an open-air Mass at Bresso Park in Milan, Italy, for the closure of the seventh World Meeting of Families. The meeting began on 30 May and has had as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration". Extracts of the homily delivered by the Pope to the one million faithful present are given below.

"The liturgical Solemnity of the Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today ... urges us to commit ourselves to live our communion with God and with one another according to the model of Trinitarian communion. ... It is not only the Church that is called to be the image of One God in Three Persons, but also the family, based on marriage between man and woman. ... God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life. It is love that makes the human person the authentic image of God. Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation. Dear married couples, watch over your children and, in a world dominated by technology, transmit to them, with serenity and trust, reasons for living, the strength of faith, pointing them towards high goals and supporting them in their fragility".

"Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the world. You have before you the witness of so many families who point out the paths for growing in love: by maintaining a constant relationship with God and participating in the life of the Church, by cultivating dialogue, respecting the other’s point of view, by being ready for service and patient with the failings of others, by being able to forgive and to seek forgiveness, by overcoming with intelligence and humility any conflicts that may arise, by agreeing on principles of upbringing, and by being open to other families, attentive towards the poor, and responsible within civil society. These are all elements that build up the family. Live them with courage, and be sure that, insofar as you live your love for each other and for all with the help of God’s grace, you become a living Gospel, a true domestic Church.

"I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you".

"We may recognise the task of man and woman to collaborate with God in the process of transforming the world through work, science and technology. ... In modern economic theories, there is often a utilitarian concept of work, production and the market. Yet God’s plan, as well as experience, show that the one-sided logic of sheer utility and maximum profit are not conducive to harmonious development, to the good of the family or to building a more just society, because it brings in its wake ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment, the race for consumer goods, family tensions. Indeed, the utilitarian mentality tends to take its toll on personal and family relationships, reducing them to a fragile convergence of individual interests and undermining the solidity of the social fabric.

"One final point: man, as the image of God, is also called to rest and to celebrate. The account of creation concludes with these words: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it”. For us Christians, the feast day is Sunday, the Lord’s day, the weekly Easter. It is the day of the Church, the assembly convened by the Lord around the table of the Word and of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. ... It is the day of man and his values: conviviality, friendship, solidarity, culture, closeness to nature, play, sport. It is the day of the family, on which to experience together a sense of celebration, encounter, sharing, not least through taking part in Mass. Dear families, despite the relentless rhythms of the modern world, do not lose a sense of the Lord’s Day!"

"Family, work, celebration: three of God’s gifts, three dimensions of our lives that must be brought into a harmonious balance. ... In this regard, always give priority to the logic of being over that of having: the first builds up, the second ends up destroying. We must learn to believe first of all in the family, in authentic love, the kind that comes from God and unites us to Him".


Vatican City, 3 June 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, after having celebrated Mass in the presence of almost one million faithful at Bresso Park in Milan and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father announced that the eighth World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A. in the year 2015. "I send my warm greetings to Archbishop Charles Chaput", he said, "and to the Catholics of that great city, and look forward to meeting them there along with numerous families from all around the world".

Before bidding farewell to the participants in the seventh World Meeting of Families, Benedict XVI expressed his thanks to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and to Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, as well as to all the organisers and volunteers.

The Pope then went on the greet pilgrims in various languages. Speaking French, he spoke of his joy at today's beatification in the French diocese of Besancon of Fr. Jean-Joseph Lataste of the Order of Friars Preachers, whom he described as an "apostle of mercy" and "apostle of prisons".

"Dear families of Milan, Lombardy, Italy and the whole world, I greet you all with affection and thank you for your participation", the Holy Father concluded. "I encourage you to show solidarity towards families experiencing the greatest difficulties. I am thinking of the economic and social crisis, I am thinking of the recent earthquake in Emilia. May the Virgin Mary always accompany and support you".

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