Pope to Offer Croatian Family as Secularism's Antidote

His 19th International Journey Begins Saturday

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will make his 19th international journey with a two-day trip to Croatia this weekend, where he aims to confront the secularization that threatens the former communist country.

And to do this, a Vatican spokesman said, he will present the family as the source of fellowship and community that every person seeks, even in our globalized media Facebook world.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, took up the Pope's trip as the theme of the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies."

"We could say that the Pope feels at home in Croatia," the priest said, noting that he visited the nation several times as a cardinal. "It's a country with deep Christian and Catholic roots -- roots it has preserved with loyalty in difficult times, those of the past century in particular."

Father Lombardi observed that "today Croatia faces the challenge of secularization."

Family and youth are main issues in this regard, he stated, which is why "the central events of the Pope's trip are his participation in the meeting with Croatian Catholic families, and with young people."

The spokesman also reflected on the motto, "Together in Christ."

"In a world where new forms of communication continue to multiply and affect our lives, authentic encounters and shared communion among people appear to be ever more difficult," he said.

Father Lombardi noted that the Church's support for the mission of the family and youth "serves the human community in general, and the national community of Croatia which, having survived the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, is now preparing to join the European community of nations more deeply by entering the European Union."

He said the Holy Father is hoping Croatia can contribute the culture and values that are part of it's "great tradition."

"Together in Christ, and with the Pope," he said, "we must look to the future with faith and courage."