Pope to Catholic Action members: bring Christ's appeal to the world

Loreto (AsiaNews) – Before a crowd of some 300,000 pilgrims, especially young people, the Pope called on Catholic Action to be the leaven in today's society that draws "in great number today's men and women to Christ's appeal". Only "bearing the Cross in the footsteps of Jesus" can make this happen.

In the homily beatifying three members of the Spanish and Italian branches of Catholic Action, Pope John Paul II said that "there was no greater love than that of the Cross, no greater freedom than that of love, no fuller brotherhood than that born of the Cross of Jesus".

The Pope traced the witness of the three Blessed: Pedro Tarrés i Claret, "medical doctor, then priest"; Alberto Marvelli, "young, strong and free" who "in prayer sought inspiration for his political work"; Pina Suriano who "gradually nourished a simple but steadfast will to commit her life to God as an offering of love, especially for the sanctification and the perseverance of priests". "The greatest gift one can give the Church," the Pope told the Catholic Action gathering, "is holiness."

In the last few decades Catholic Action, the largest association of Catholic laity in the world, has been hard put to reconcile faith and political action, involvement in the world and witness of their own Christian identity.

The Pope ended the homily, partly read by Bishop Leonardo Sandri, General Affairs Substitute for the Vatican's Secretary of State, with an urgent message:

"Dear brothers and sisters, friends of Catholic Action from Italy, Spain and other parts of the world gathered here in Loreto! [. . .] Be concerned of what concerns the Church, that is to say, be concerned that Christ's appeal captivate today's men and women; that his Gospels shine once again as the beacon of hope for the poor, the sick, and the hungry for justice; that Christian communities be more open, appealing and dynamic; that our towns and cities be more liveable and hospitable to all; that humanity follow the path of peace and brotherhood.

"As laity you must bear witness of your faith through the virtues that are yours: fidelity and tenderness in the family, competence at work, tenacity in pursing the common good, solidarity in relating to others, creativity in doing deeds useful for evangelisation and human development. You must as well show in close cooperation with your pastors that the Gospels are contemporary, that faith does not take believers out of history but rather plunges them right into it.

"Have courage, Catholic Action! The Lord shall guide your journey of renewal! The Immaculate Virgin of Loreto will be by your side with tender kindness. The Church looks upon you with confidence. The Pope greets you, encourages you, and blesses you with all his heart".