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Recalling Meeting of Families, Pope stresses need for Sabbath rest

Catholic World News - June 06, 2012

“A message of hope went out from Milan to the whole world,” Pope Benedict XVI told his regular weekly public audience on June 6, as he recalled his visit to that Italian city last weekend for the 7th World Meeting of Families.

The meeting in Milan was “an epiphany of the family,” the Pope said. He remarked that in his first address to the public, gathered before the Duomo, he had said that the family “must be rediscovered as mankind’s most important heritage.”

At his Wednesday audience the Pope retraced his visit to Milan, step by step, recounting each of his talks. He spoke of the memorable concert at La Scala, with the performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. He mentioned his talk with the clergy—to whom he said that “celibacy is a luminous sign of love for God and for our brothers and sisters”—and his encouragement for young people in this year’s Confirmation class.

In his talk with political leaders, the Pope reported, he had insisted that “the legislation and activities of state institutions must always be at the service of individuals, safeguarding them in all aspects, beginning with the right to life which must never be deliberately suppressed, and recognizing the specific identity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman.”

During his encounters with the participants in the World Meeting of Families, the Pope said that he had been repeatedly struck by the reports of families facing challenges because of economic difficulties, divorce, and other problems. He focused especially on one particular challenge: the need to set aside the Sabbath for worship and family time. The Pope told his audience:

I wish to recall what I have often said in the past in defense of family time, which is threatened by the imposition of work-related commitments. Sunday is the day of the Lord, the day of man, a day in which everyone must be free, free for the family and free for God. By defending Sunday we defend man's freedom.

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