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The catholicity of the Church

From the Galilee of the Gentiles – the biblical country where the greatest diversity of peoples and openness to pagans was found – the Papal Journey to the Holy Land has once again drawn international attention to the Catholic and Christian minority in the Near and Middle East and so also to religions, to all women and men of good will. The Pope's Pilgrimage had a very tangible objective: to return to the roots of all coexistence and hence to the family and its irreplaceable educational role.

And from Nazareth, the town in which Mary heard the Annunciation of the Angel and in which the Child Jesus grew up and became an adult, Benedict XVI addressed a matter that concerns all societies, and did so in accents that go far beyond the Church's visible boundaries. In speaking of the sacred nature of the family, the Pope said, in fact, that a great many men and women today need to make this truth their own again: that the family nucleus plays a fundamental role in the true human formation of the young. For this reason, looking to the future, it is worthwhile for governments to support families.

In this thematic context, the Bishop of Rome chose once again to insist on the dignity and appreciation of women, indispensable in the creation of a world that is truly human. In other words, this is evidently a matter that not only concerns Catholics and, surprisingly, has turned out to be one of the most recurrent reasons for the Pope's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land – where women can do a great deal in the task of education which aims to inculcate honesty and respect for others.

Among the responsibilities incumbent on families and in particular, on women – and not only Catholic or Christian women – is the urgent need to overcome the tensions and conflicts in a worn-out region. For this reason Benedict XVI once again appealed for reconciliation in a land where the multiple riches of Catholic rites – evident in the languages and hymns of the liturgical celebration on Mount Precipice – goes hand in hand with the presence of communities belonging to different religions.

The Pope also addressed the religious leaders of Galilee – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Druzes – in words that can easily be understood and accepted by anyone, since they are based on the recognition that the world and peace are gifts of God and not the exclusive property of men and women, and that every human being is called to abide by the laws that God has inscribed upon the universe.

The conviction of Benedict XVI, a visible sign of the Church's catholicity, is that the various religious traditions bear a strong potential for teaching peaceful coexistence. In safeguarding youth from fanaticism and violence, foundations will be laid for a more human world in accordance with God's plan.

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