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Pray, work for strong Christian families, Pope urges congregation in Zagreb

Catholic World News - June 06, 2011

“In today’s society, the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever,” said Pope Benedict XVI, as he celebrated Mass for well over 300,000 people at a racetrack near Zagreb, Croatia.

The outdoor Mass was the focal point of the Pontiff’s weekend trip to Zagreb, which was timed for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. Speaking from the altar on a stage that had been built in the shapes of two hands—symbolizing both the union of marriage and the union between God and man—the Holy Father made a strong appeal for pastoral work to strengthen and protect family life.

The family, the Pope observed, is facing heavy pressure from the forces of secularization, materialism, and hedonism. That pressure is particularly intenes in Europe, he added, indirectly acknowledging the rising rate of divorce in Croatia, a heavily Catholic country.

The task of building strong families, the Pope continued, is essential to the Church not only in Croatia or Europe but in any society, “because Christian families are a decisive resource for education in the faith, for the upbuilding of the Church as a communion, and for her missionary presence in the most diverse situations in life.”

A revival of strong Christian family life, the Pope said, requires a new missionary effort, which in turn can occur only with the help of the Holy Spirit. Reminding the congregation of the novena leading up to Pentecost, the Pope underlined that human action and planning alone cannot produce the desired results. “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.”

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