Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In Europe and in today's world, where separations and divorces are so frequent, the family founded on marriage witnesses God’s "faithful, patient, respectful and generous" love; the same as the first education to the Faith is precisely this witness of fidelity to the marriage covenant. The promotion of the family, central to Benedict XVI’s visit to Croatia last weekend, was also at the heart of the Pope’s overview of that trip during the general audience today.
Next to the family, the visit to Croatia, in the words of Benedict XVI recalled the "most profound vocation of Europe, which is to preserve and renew a humanism which has Christian roots." "a humanism that focuses on the conscience of man, his transcendent openness and at the same time his historical reality, capable of inspiring political projects that are diverse and yet converge on constructing a substantive democracy, founded on ethical values rooted in human nature itself”.
Speaking to 30 thousand people gathered in St Peter’s Square Benedict XVI recalled the theme of the visit, which took place last Saturday and Sunday, "Together in Christ", "by expressing the experience of finding all united in Christ's name, the experience Being Church, manifested by the coming together of God's people around the successor of Peter. " But the occasion had a special reference to family, due to the celebration of the first National Day of the Croatian Catholic families, to which Sunday morning Mass was dedicated.
"It was very important for me to confirm especially families in the faith, termed “house churches" by the Second Vatican Council and to whose role Blessed John Paul II “gave great emphasis". "In the Europe of today, Nations with a strong Christian tradition have a special responsibility in safeguarding and promoting the value of the family founded on marriage, which remains crucial in both the educational and social fronts." "In our day, and unfortunately it is noted the growing number of separations and divorces, the fidelity of the spouses has become in itself a significant sign of the love of Christ, which allows people to experience marriage for what it is, namely 'union of a man and a woman who, by the grace of Christ, love and help each other for all of their lives, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health. "
"The first religious education consists in the witness of this fidelity to the marriage covenant: from it children learn without need for words that God is love, loyal, patient, respectful and generous. Faith in the God who is love is transmitted primarily through the testimony of a faithful conjugal love, which naturally translates into love for children, the fruit of this union. But this loyalty is not possible without the grace of God, without the support of faith and the Holy Spirit. That's why the Virgin Mary does not cease to intercede with her Son so that, like the wedding at Cana, he continually renew the gift of 'good wine' to the spouses, that is, his grace, which allows them to live in 'one flesh' in the various ages and life situations. "
Benedict XVI, retracing the steps of his visit, spoke of the celebration of Vespers in the Cathedral of Zagreb, with the bishops, priests, religious and seminarians. A moment that made it possible to "experience our being 'family' as an ecclesial community." In the cathedral, he said, is the tomb of Blessed Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, bishop and martyr. "He, on behalf of Christ, opposed with courage the abuses of Nazism and fascism and, later, to those of the communist regime. He was imprisoned and confined in his native village. " Created cardinal by Pope Pius XII, he died in 1960 from an illness contracted in prison. "In light of his testimony, I encouraged bishops and priests in their ministry, and encouraged them to communion and apostolic zeal, I repeated the consecrated beauty and radical nature of their form of life, I invited the seminarians and novices to follow Christ with joy who has called them by name. "
A visit, in conclusion, which went "very well" and that "made me feel once more the urgency of the challenges facing the peoples of this continent today: that is, not to be afraid of God, the God of Jesus Christ , who is love and truth, who takes nothing from freedom but restores it to being itself and gifts it a horizon of hope that we can trust in".