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At audience, Pope recaps visit to Croatia

Catholic World News - June 08, 2011

Following his usual pattern after a foreign trip, Pope Benedict XVI devoted his weekly public audience on June 8 to reflections on his visit to Croatia the previous weekend.

Breaking from his series of weekly talks on prayer, the Holy Father focused mainly on the importance of Christian family life, recalling that the highlight of his visit to Zagreb had been a Mass for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families.

"In Europe today, the nations of firm Christian traditions have a special responsibility to defend and promote the value of the family based on marriage,” the Pope said. He underlined the timeliness of that message for Croatia, as the nation prepares to join the European Union.

The Pope stressed the powerful witness of loving married couples, pointing out that parents are the primary educators of their own children and the first teachers of the faith. Moreover, he said:

In our days, while there are, unfortunately, a growing number of separations and divorces, the faithfulness of married couples has become a meaningful witness of Christ's love that allows them to live marriage for what it is: the union of a man and a woman who, with Christ's grace, love one and help one another for their entire lives, in joy and sorrow, in health and in sickness.
At his Wednesday audience Pope Benedict also repeated another clear message of his visit to Zagreb: a defense of Blessed Aloizije Stepanic against propaganda charges that he had been a friend of Croatia’s wartime Ustase regime. “In Christ’s name, [Cardinal Stepanic] courageously opposed the abuses of Nazism and fascism, and then later of the Communist regime,” the Pontiff insisted.

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