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In Croatia, Pope Benedict XVI once again affirmed the life and mission of CFC-FFL. Our work is evangelization founded on family renewal. And we are consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.


VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 9:00am the Holy Father travelled from the apostolic nunciature to the Zagreb Hippodrome, which is eight kilometers distant and located on the banks of the Sava River. The hippodrome has a capacity of 300,000 persons.

Upon arriving, the Pope encircled the grounds in the hippodrome by Popemobile, traveling through the crowd to reach the altar to celebrate Holy Mass for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. The stage had the form of two hands: one protecting the source of eternal life, that is, the altar, the point of human-divine encounter in Christ, while the other hand, which forms the canopy, symbolizes the pneumatological action and the presence of the Spirit of God in the Church.

"We have recently celebrated the Ascension of the Lord and we prepare ourselves to receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit", the Pope said in his homily. "In the first reading, we saw how the apostolic community was united in prayer in the Upper Room with Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is a picture of the Church with deep roots in the paschal event. ... Remaining together was the condition given by Jesus for them to experience the coming of the Paraclete, and prolonged prayer served to maintain them in harmony with one another. We find here a formidable lesson for every Christian community. Sometimes it is thought that missionary efficacy depends primarily upon careful planning and its intelligent implementation by means of specific action. Certainly, the Lord asks for our cooperation, but his initiative has to come first, before any response from us: his Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church, to be invoked and welcomed".

Benedict XVI then thanked the Croatian Bishops for their invitation to visit the country on the occasion of the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. He spoke of his great appreciation "for this attention and commitment to the family, not only because today this basic human reality, in your nation as elsewhere, has to face difficulties and threats, and thus has special need of evangelization and support, but also because Christian families are a decisive resource for education in the faith, for the up-building of the Church as a communion and for her missionary presence in the most diverse situations in life".

"Everyone knows that the Christian family is a special sign of the presence and love of Christ and that it is called to give a specific and irreplaceable contribution to evangelization. ... The Christian family has always been the first way of transmitting the faith and still today retains great possibilities for evangelization in many areas. Dear parents, commit yourselves always to teach your children to pray, and pray with them; draw them close to the Sacraments, especially to the Eucharist, ... introduce them to the life of the Church; in the intimacy of the home do not be afraid to read the sacred Scriptures, illuminating family life with the light of faith and praising God as Father. Be like a little Upper Room, like that of Mary and the disciples, in which to live unity, communion and prayer!".

"By the grace of God, many Christian families today are acquiring an ever deeper awareness of their missionary vocation, and are devoting themselves seriously to bearing witness to Christ the Lord. ... In today's society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality! Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family - your concrete testimony - is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them".

"Dear families, be courageous!", the pontiff exclaimed. "Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person! Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them! The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: 'the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her ... And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a "small domestic church"'. Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!".

PV-CROATIA/ VIS 20110604 (920)


VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2011 (VIS) - After Holy Mass had ended, Benedict XVI prayed the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in Zagreb's Hippodrome.

"I have come here today to confirm you in your faith", the Pope said. "This is the gift I bring you: the faith of Peter, the faith of the Church! But at the same time you give me this same faith, enriched with your experience, your joys and sufferings. In a special way you give me your faith lived in the family, so that I may keep it in the patrimony of the whole Church. I know that you find great strength in Mary, the Mother of Christ and our Mother. So we now turn to her, spiritually oriented towards her Shrine at Marija Bistrica, and we entrust to her all Croatian families: parents, children, grandparents; the journey of husband and wife, the task of education, professional activities and home-making. We invoke her intercession that public institutions may always sustain the family, the basic cell of the social fabric".

The Holy Father also entrusted the celebration of the VII World Day of Families, which will be celebrated in Milan, Italy next year to the Virgin. He then noted that the Cathedral of Burgo de Osma, Spain was today celebrating the beatification of Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, "an outstanding bishop of seventeenth-centuryMexico and Spain. He was a man of vast culture and profound spirituality and a great reformer, a tireless pastor and defender of the Indians. May the Lord grant to his Church many holy pastors like Blessed Juan".

At the end of the Regina Coeli, the Pope returned by Popemobile to the apostolic nunciature, where he had lunch.

PV-CROATIA/ VIS 20110604 (280)

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil 1:21) 
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