Benedict XVI: Families, You Are Not Alone!

Offers Profile of Child Formed in the Faith: Mature, Coherent, Joyful

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2011 ( Benedict XVI says that learning about God is a lifelong endeavor, much broader than simply preparing a child to receive the sacraments.

The Pope made this observation Saturday when he received in audience a group of several thousand pilgrims from the southern Italian Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti.

The diocese is having a local synod, and the Holy Father spoke of this occasion as an opportunity to experience the Church as a pilgrim people. He said that particular attention must be given to Christian education.

“In this educational effort, the family remains the first responsible party. Dear parents, be the first witnesses of the faith,” the Pontiff exhorted. “Do not be afraid of the difficulties amid which you are called to realize your mission. You are not alone! The Christian community is close to you and sustains you.”

He spoke of catechesis as permanent formation. “We must grow throughout our lives in knowledge of God, thus in knowledge of what it means to be a man,” he said.

The Holy Father called on parents to find light and strength for their educational efforts in the liturgy, particularly in the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.

He invited parents to take advantage of diocesan opportunities for education and volunteer work so as to form people who know how to live in solidarity, “open and attentive to situations of spiritual and material hardship.”

“In short,” the Pope said, “pastoral action should be geared to forming persons mature in the faith, able to live in contexts in which often God is ignored; persons coherent with the faith, so that the light of Christ will be taken to all environments; persons that live the faith with joy, to transmit the beauty of being Christians.”

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