BRINDISI, Italy, JUNE 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Upon his arrival in Brindisi, Benedict XVI spoke out in defense of immigrants and life.
The Pope on Saturday lauded the residents of Brindisi, a port city in southeastern Italy, for their generous welcome of immigrants and he urged them to be open to life. Those were the two main themes of his arrival address.
Representatives of the local government and the region's youth welcomed the Holy Father to the city for the second leg of a two-day apostolic trip.
In the speech that he delivered to a large crowd in the city center, the Pontiff reflected on the vocation of Brindisi, which, as in the past, "remains a port open to the sea" and a traditional refuge of immigrants.
"In recent years the newspapers and television have shown images of refugees who have landed in Brindisi from Croatia and from Montenegro, from Albania and from Macedonia," he remarked.
The Pope noted "with gratitude the efforts that have been made and that continue to be made on the part of civil and military administrations, in collaboration with the Church and with various humanitarian organizations, to provide refuge and aid, despite the economic difficulties that unfortunately continue to worry your region."
"Your city has been and continues to be generous, and this has been justly recognized with the assignment -- in the context of international solidarity -- of an authentic institutional role: Brindisi is the site of a U.N. base for humanitarian aid overseen by its World Food Program."
"This solidarity," Benedict XVI told the citizens of Brindisi, "is part of the virtues that make up your rich civil and religious patrimony: Continue to build your future with zeal."
Turning his attention to the defense of the family, Benedict XVI recalled that the family is the basis on which society is built.
He said: "Respect for life, and especially attachment to family, [are] exposed today to numerous forces that are trying to weaken [them].
"How necessary and urgent it is, even in the face of these challenges, that all persons of goodwill commit themselves to the safeguarding of the family, the solid basis on which the life of the whole of society is built."
"May adherence to the Gospel, consciously renewed and lived with responsibility, move you, today as yesterday, to face with hope the difficulties and the challenges of the present moment," the Pope concluded. "May faith encourage you to respond without compromises to the legitimate expectations of the human and social concerns of your city."