Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Italy’s economic hub, the city of Milan, Friday evening to a rapturous welcome in the central Piazza del Duomo. The Holy Father had a special message for the thousands of families who have come from across the globe for the VII World Meeting.
He said: “Faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, who is living among us, must animate the entire fabric of your life, personal and communal, private and public, so as to enable a stable and authentic "well being", beginning with the family, which needs to be rediscovered as humanity’s principal patrimony, coefficient and sign of a true and stable culture in favour of man”.
Pope Benedict didn't limit himself to the Catholics taking part in the global gathering. He also appealed to non-believers to help protect and safeguard families, people suffering from loneliness, isolation or “plagued by worries” in these difficult economic times. He concluded “in the clear distinction of roles and purposes, the positively "secular" Milan and the Milan of faith are called to support the common good”.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters of the Archdiocese of Milan!
I cordially greet all of you gathered here in such numbers, as well as those following this event on radio or television. Thank you for your warm welcome! I thank the Mayor for his kind words of welcome to me on behalf of the state. I respectfully greet the representative of the Government, the President of the Region, the President of the Province, as well as other representatives of civil and military institutions, and I express my appreciation for their cooperation in the different moments of this visit.
I am very pleased to be here today with you and thank God for this opportunity to visit your illustrious city. My first encounter with the Milanese takes place in this Piazza del Duomo, the heart of Milan, where the imposing monument that is the symbol of this city rises. With its forest of spiers, it invites us to look upwards, to God. This very momentum towards the heavens has always characterized Milan and allowed the city over the years to respond fruitfully to its mission: to be a crossroads - Mediolanum - of peoples and cultures. Thus the city has knowledgeably managed to conjugate pride in its identity with a capacity to accommodate the positive contributions which, throughout history, it has been offered. Today too, Milan is called to rediscover its positive role as a harbinger of development and peace for all of Italy. My cordial "thank you" goes to the Pastor of this Archdiocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, for the welcome and the words he addressed to me on behalf of the entire diocesan community, and with him I greet the Auxiliary Bishops and those who preceded him on this glorious and ancient chair, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.
My special greetings go to the representatives of the families - from all over the world - taking part in the VII World Meeting. An affectionate thought then to those in need of help and comfort, and who are plagued by various worries: to the people who are lonely or in difficulty, the unemployed, the sick, prisoners, those who are without a home or the means by which to live a dignified life. The collective and constant involvement of the community should never be lacking to these our brothers and sisters. In this regard, I welcome what the Diocese of Milan has done and continues to do to concretely reach out to the needs of families affected by the economic crisis, and for having arrived immediately, together with the whole Church and civil society in Italy , to help the earthquake victims in Emilia Romagna, who are in our hearts and our prayers and towards whom, once again, I encourage a generous solidarity.
The VII World Meeting of Families gives me the opportunity to visit your city and to renew the close and constant bonds that unite the Ambrosian community to the Church of Rome and Successor of Peter. As is known, Ambrose came from a Roman family and always kept alive his ties with the Eternal City and the Church of Rome, and praising and demonstrating the primacy of the bishop who presides over it. In Peter - he affirms - "there is the foundation of the Church and the Magisterium of discipline" (De virginitate, 16, 105), and again the well known declaration: "Where Peter is, there is the Church" ( Explanatio Psalmi 40, 30, 5). The pastoral wisdom and the teachings of Ambrose on the orthodoxy of the faith and Christian life will leave an indelible mark in the universal Church and, in particular, will mark the Church of Milan, which has never ceased to cultivate his memory and preserve his spirit . The Ambrosian Church, guarding the prerogatives of its rite and its own expressions of the one faith, is called to fully live the catholicity of the one Church, to witness to it and contribute to enriching it.
The deep sense of Church and the sincere affection of communion with the Successor of Peter, have been part of the richness and identity of your Church throughout its journey, and shine through in the figures of the great pastors who have led it. First of all, St. Charles Borromeo: son of your land. He was, as the Servant of God Paul VI said, "a shaper of the consciousness and lifestyle of the people" (Address to Milanesi, March 18, 1968), and this especially through his wide-ranging, tenacious and rigorous application of the Tridentine reforms, with the creation of renovating institutions, beginning with the seminaries, and with his boundless ministry of charity rooted in a profound union with God, accompanied by an exemplary life of austerity. But, along with Sts Ambrose and Charles, I wish to mention other excellent pastors closer to us, who have adorned the Church of Milan with holiness and doctrine: Blessed Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, an apostle of catechesis and oratories and promoter of social renewal in the Christian sense; Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, "the Cardinal of Prayer," indefatigable Pastor, until the total consumption of himself for his faithful. I also want to mention two Archbishops of Milan who became popes: Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI, his determination was responsible for the successful conclusion of the Roman Question and the constitution of the State of Vatican City, and the Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini, Paul VI, good and wise, who with expert hand, was able to guide and lead the Second Vatican Council to a happy conclusion. The Ambrosian Church also matured some spiritual fruit who are particularly significant for our time. Above all just thinking of the families, I wish to remember, Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, a wife and mother, a woman engaged in ecclesial and civil life, she made beauty and joy, faith, hope and charity shine.
Dear friends, your history is rich in culture and faith. This wealth has innervated the art, music, literature, culture, industry, politics, sports, charity initiatives and the entire Archdiocese of Milan. It is now up to you, heirs of a glorious past and a spiritual heritage of inestimable value, to commit to transmitting to future generations the torch of such an shining tradition. You well know the urgent need to merge the Gospel leaven into the current cultural context. Faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, who is living among us, must animate the entire fabric of your life, personal and communal, private and public, so as to enable a stable and authentic "well being", beginning with the family , which needs to be rediscovered as humanity’s principal patrimony, coefficient and sign of a true and stable culture in favour of man. The unique identity of Milan should not isolate it or separate from it, closing in on itself. Instead, safeguarding the sap of the roots and traits of its history, it is called to look to the future with hope, cultivating an intimate and propulsive connection with life throughout Italy and Europe. In the clear distinction of roles and purposes, the positively "secular" Milan and the Milan of faith are called to support the common good.
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you again for your welcome! I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary, who from the highest spire of the cathedral holds maternally vigil day and night on this City. Upon all of you, whom I hold in one great embrace, I bestow my affectionate Blessing.