VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2005 ( Benedict XVI encouraged pilgrims from Spain to take Jesus' message "to the ends of society," and to love all people, especially the poor, "with the love of the risen Christ."

The Pope made that exhortation to about 2,000 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Madrid today. The Holy Father did not refer to Spain's recent approval of same-sex marriage, although he mentioned the Christian meaning of the family.

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, was more explicit. In his greeting to the Pope, the prelate said that in Spain "not only is the faith denied but human reason itself, as can be seen in the recent legislation on marriage and the family."

The audience, held in Paul VI Hall, was attended by pilgrims who had taken part in the recent diocesan synod on "The Transmission of the Faith, Lived and Realized in the Communion of the Church."

Thirsty for values

In his address, the Bishop of Rome concentrated on the topics of the diocesan synod, which closed on Pentecost.

"In a society thirsty for genuine human values, which suffers so many divisions and fractures," Benedict XVI said, "the community of believers must be the bearer of the light of the Gospel, with the certainty that charity is above all the communication of truth."

In this connection, the Holy Father encouraged the presence of the Church in the media, which he described as important "because the Spirit impels us to take to every man and woman the love that God the Father showed in Jesus Christ."

"This love is solicitous, generous, unconditional, and is offered not only to those who listen to the messenger, but also to those who ignore or reject him," the Pope said.

In the desert

According to Benedict XVI, each baptized person must "feel called to go, as envoy of Christ, in search of those who have alienated themselves from the community, as those disciples of Emmaus who gave way to disillusion."

He added: "One must go to the ends of society to take to all the light of Christ's message on the meaning of life, the family and society, reaching people who live in the desert of abandonment and poverty, and loving them with the love of the risen Christ."

Before taking leave of Madrid's pilgrims, the Holy Father said: "Try to nourish yourselves spiritually with prayer and an intense sacramental life, have a profound personal knowledge of Christ and walk with all your strength toward holiness, the 'high degree of Christian life,' as our beloved John Paul II said."