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Benedict XVI in Milan

· Arrival in a festive city on Friday afternoon for the World Meeting of Families ·

Benedict XVI is in Milan for the conclusive celebrations of the Seventh World Meeting of Families. He arrived in the capital of Lombardy on Friday afternoon and will stay there until Sunday, 3 June. His aim is to bring the fundamental institution of every civil society to the attention of the international debate.

The uninterrupted flow of pilgrims who are continuing to arrive by every means of transport – charter flights, buses, trains and cars – is giving a the city's public places a festive air. Yesterday alone, 31 May, 30,000 visitors to the International Fair of the Family were recorded while in the parishes of the city of St Ambrose there were moments of sharing between the local communities and delegations of the faithful from every latitude. The small discomforts that the Milanese must put up with for this peaceful invasion are largely rewarded by the joyful atmosphere that prevails everywhere.

Meanwhile, at the same time as the Pope's arrival in Milan, the three-day Pastoral Theological Congress is coming to an end. It was a succession of testimonies and round-tables on the theme “Family, Work, Celebration”. The positive examples that emerged promise hope for the future, despite the heavy burden of the economic crisis on the family institution and the dearth of adequate policies for its support.

For the Pope, his 28th journey in Italy – the longest of those he has so far made in the peninsular, of a duration of three days and two nights – is an opportunity to visit the great Archdiocese of Milan; indeed his first appointments are, are precisely, with the people of Milan in Piazza Duomo and then at La Scala, together with the delegations of the World Meeting of Families, for a concert in his honour. This musical event, conducted by Maestro Daniel Barenboim, is dedicated to the earthquake victims of Emilia and Lombardy.

On Saturday, 2 May, Benedict XVI's Visit continues in the cathedral with the celebration of the Hours in the ancient Ambrosian Rite. The Pope will then go to the Meazza Stadium to meet with candidates for Confirmation. In the afternoon, in the Archbishop's Residence, the Pope will speak to the authorities and local entrepreneurs, before taking part in the Bresso Park in the celebration of testimonies which will in fact anticipate the Sunday Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families. The celebration will take place the following morning, again in the great park which can accommodate the vast crowds of the faithful that are expected. Benedict XVI will then lunch with five families, who represent the continents they come from, and lastly, in the afternoon, he will greet the organizers of the event before setting out for Linate Airport.

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