Pontiff Sees First Communion as Key Step

Greets Children and Mothers

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A child's first Communion is an important step toward growing closer to Christ, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope said this today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

May, the Holy Father explained, is a popular time for children to approach Communion for the first time.

The Pope said he wished to address children in particular to explain in what the "mystery of communion with Jesus" consists.

Benedict XVI continued with the words of Christ after the last supper: "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Union with God "is realized above all in the Eucharist, also called 'communion,'" the Pope said from the window of his study.

"I express special greetings to all children who in these weeks encounter Jesus Christ in the Eucharist for the first time, hoping that they will become branches of the vine, which is Jesus, and grow to be true disciples of his," the Holy Father added.

Before taking leave of the crowds gathered in the square, Benedict XVI commended families to the Virgin Mary, especially "mothers and children." Mother's Day was observed today in Italy and many other countries.