Pope Benedict XVI Answers Families Questions in Milan

Emphasizes the Importance of Family Unity at 'Feast of Testimonies'

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By Junno Arocho

MILAN, JUNE 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Several families had a rare opportunity to ask questions to Pope Benedict XVI during the ‘Feast of Testimonies’ on Saturday evening at the VII World Meeting of Families in Milan.

The families, who came from Vietnam, Madagascar, Greece, the United States, and Brazil, asked questions ranging from his earliest childhood memories to seeking advice on how to live
as Christians in an increasingly secular society.

Cat Thien, a 7 year old from Vietnam accompanied by her parents and little brother, asked the Holy Father about his family and "when you were little, like me." The pope responded by
recalling his family life as a child, while noting the importance of Sunday. “Sunday was always the important time for our family, but Sunday already began Saturday evening,” he said.

The pontiff then explained various activities that he and his family would do together, from games to composing music. He explained the impact that the unity of his family had in his life. "In a word, we were one heart and one soul, with many shared experiences, even in very hard times, because it was wartime – first there was the dictatorship, then poverty," he recalled. "But this love that we had for each other, this joy even in simple things was strong and so we were able to overcome and endure even these things."

A couple from New York, Jay and Anna Rerie, along with their six children spoke of the difficulty of raising a family while juggling work responsibilities. “Do you have some advice to help us rediscover this necessary harmony?” they asked.  "In the vortex of the many stimuli
imposed by contemporary society, how can families be helped to live celebrations according to God’s heart?"

The Holy Father highlighted not only the importance of family and work, but the importance of reconciling both priorities. In the priority of work, Pope Benedict exhorted employers to
permit employees to have extra time with their families, stressing that "allowing a little freedom is good even for the business, because it reinforces the love for work, for the workplace." He then urged families to bring an element of joy and attention in the family, thus, aiding them during difficult times.

The pope took the occasion to reiterate the importance of Sunday for the family. "I hope that Sunday is observed in America," he said. "Sunday seems very important to me, the day of the Lord and, precisely as such, the 'day of man' too, because we are free."