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Build bridges, Pope encourages Catholics of Venice

Catholic World News - May 09, 2011

During a weekend visit to Venice, Pope Benedict XVI challenged Catholics to uphold their city’s rich tradition as “a crossroads of peoples and of communities.”

Venice, the Pope said, has a vocation for “promoting a culture of welcoming and sharing, capable of building bridges of dialogue between peoples and nations.” His message was clearly intended to counter to anti-immigrant sentiments in Italy.

Pope Benedict also underlined the need to uphold Christian beliefs in a culture marked by advancing secularization. He urged listeners to “courageously promote and defend the unity of the faith” and to address “the vast and disturbing issues that pose a crisis” to the European civilization founded on Christian faith. “Be saints!” the Pope exhorted the 300,000 people who attended an outdoor Mass in San Giuliano de Mestre Park on Sunday, May 8. “Put Christ at the center of your lives.” During several public appearances in a visit that lasted less than 24 hours, the Pope—who traveled across the city in boats, along the famous canals—frequently reminded the people of Venice of their rich Catholic heritage. He pointed out, for example, that during the 20th century three patriarchs of Venice had become Roman Pontiffs: Popes John Paul I, Blessed John XXIII, and St. Pius X.

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