VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2005 ( Benedict XVI says the increase in divorces and irregular unions calls Christians to give greater witness to the Gospel of life and of the family.

On Saturday, the Pope analyzed the difficulties the family is going through when he met with participants in a pilgrimage of thanksgiving from Verona, Italy, to Rome, at the conclusion of their diocesan synod.

After being greeted by Bishop Flavio Carraro of Verona, in Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father mentioned that the family "as well as the pastoral guidelines of the Church in Italy and throughout the world" was one of the main topics of the meeting.

Benedict XVI added that, in general, "divorces and irregular unions have increased, and for Christians this constitutes an urgent appeal to proclaim and witness in all its fullness the Gospel of life and of the family."

Recalling the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, in No. 48 of the pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," the Bishop of Rome underlined that "the family is called to be an intimate community of life and love, as it is founded on indissoluble marriage."

"Despite the difficulties and the social and cultural conditionings of the present historical moment, with their life Christian spouses must be a sign of the faithful love of God," the Pope said. "They must collaborate with priests in the pastoral care of the engaged, of young couples, of families and in the education of new generations."