Vatican City, 2 June 2012 (VIS) - "We must rediscover the family as human beings' most important heritage, one of the elements and signs of an authentic and stable culture in favour of man". Benedict XVI pronounced these words yesterday evening during his meeting with the citizens of Milan, having travelled today to that Italian city to participate in the seventh World Meeting of Families. The event began on 30 May and has as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration".
After landing in Milan the Pope travelled to Piazza del Duomo where he met with local citizens and with pilgrims from all over the world who have come to the city for the occasion. Benedict XVI began by making affectionate recollection "of those who are alone or in difficulties, the unemployed, the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless and those who do not have the means to live a dignified life. May none of these brothers and sisters of ours lack the collective and constant concern of society as a whole". In this context he praised the efforts of the archdiocese of Milan to help the families most deeply affected by the economic crisis, and the people of the Emilia Romagna region who have recently suffered a series of earthquakes.
The Pope then went on to highlight "the profound ecclesial sense and sincere and affectionate communion with Peter's Successor, which have been part of the richness and identity of the Milanese Church throughout her history, and which are well expressed in the great pastors who have guided her". In this context, he mentioned St. Ambrose, St. Charles Borromeo, Blessed Andrea Carlo Ferrari, Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI, both former archbishops of Milan, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
"Your history is rich in culture and faith", the Pope told the Milanese. "Now it is up to you, the heirs to a glorious past and to a priceless spiritual heritage, to ensure you hand on the torch of this lustrous tradition to future generations. Well you know how vital it is to introduce evangelical leaven into modern culture. Faith in Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again for us, Who is alive among us, must animate the entire fabric of individual and community life, of private and public affairs, so as to create a stable and authentic 'well being' on the basis of the family".
At the end of the meeting, the Pope travelled to the nearby archbishopric where he will be staying during his time in Milan.