Pope Appeals for Special Attention to Family and Youth

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed for special attention to families and young people, when he received President Guido de Marco of Malta in audience.

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«May families always find encouragement and support in their work of educating the young who are the future of Malta,» the Pope said today, at the conclusion of his address in English to the president of the Mediterranean archipelago.

The Holy Father recalled his trip to Malta in May 2001, which ended with an outdoor Mass in the town of Floriana. Authorities said some 200,000 people attended that Mass. About 91% of Malta’s 400,000 people are Catholic.

«My Jubilee pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul was an occasion for me to appreciate once more your country’s ancient Christian heritage, and to encourage your fellow citizens in their efforts to build a society worthy of its noble cultural tradition,» the Pope said.

«Malta’s strength has always been its families, which have not only enriched the social fabric but also contributed significantly to the Church’s universal mission, not least through their abundant harvest of priestly and religious vocations,» the Holy Father added.

The former English colony will join the European Union on May 1.

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