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"The Pope feels at home in Croatia," Vatican spokesman in advance of trip

June 3, 2011
This weekend, Pope Benedict XVI will make his first trip to Croatia as the successor of Peter.
However, as Holy See Press Office director Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, points out, it's not his first visit to the strongly Catholic country. The Vatican spokesman offered an editorial previewing the trip on the Vatican Television program Octava Dies. See the unofficial translation below.
And visit here for details of Salt + Light's full coverage of the two day visit.
Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Croatia will be a return.
It’s a return there, because he visited on several occasions as Cardinal; in fact, he traveled to Croatia as many as three times in the last twenty years.
The Pope feels at home in Croatia.
It is a country with deep Christian and Catholic roots, loyal to these roots in difficult times, particularly during the last century. This loyalty is recognized by the Holy See, which feels a genuine closeness and solidarity towards the nation.
Croatia is now living the challenge of secularization. Two areas that face this difficult challenge are the family and youth. For this reason, the central events of the trip are the Pope’s participation in the first meeting with Croatian Catholic families, and a meeting with young people which is celebrated every two years.
Together in Christ is the motto of the visit. In a world where new forms of communication continue to multiply and affect our lives, authentic encounters and shared communion among people appear to be ever more difficult.
The Church leans on Christ to support the union and mission of the family and to fuel hope for the future of the young people.
Thus the Church serves the human community in general, and the national community of Croatia which, having survived the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, is now preparing to join the European community of nations more deeply by entering the European Union. The Pope’s hope and encouragement is that this can happen, sharing more fully the wealth of culture, values, and the great tradition of Croatia.
Great figures continue to inspire the Croatian people’s journey, like Jesuit scientist Ruggero Boscovich, the young blessed Ivan Merz, especially the great pastor and martyr, Blessed Cardinal Stepinac.
Together in Christ, with the Pope, one must look with faith and courage to the future.
To learn more about the Catholic Church in Croatia and the Pope's itinerary, visit the official site here.
CNS Photo/Paul Haring
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