Vatican City (Fides Service) – “I would like in thought to retrace with you the visit to Croatia I was able to make a few days ago…it was my one hundredth apostolic journey! To the Lord who for one hundred times opened for me the roads of the world and nations that I may render witness to him, I offer deepest gratitude from the depth of my heart ”, Pope John Paul II said during his general audience on Wednesday 12 June in St Peter’s Square.
The first lap of his visit to Croatia was Dubrovnik where he beatified Sister Marija Petkovic: “In the light of this admirable figure I addressed a special message to Croat women whom I encouraged to offer to the Church and to society their spiritual and moral contribution”. At Osijek the Pope urged those present to reflect “on holiness, the vocation of every Christian”. On Sunday 8 June, Feast of Pentecost, at Rijeka, the Pope invoked a new outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on Christian families: “I thought it would be helpful to underline the primary social value of the family institute, requesting for it privileged attention and concrete measures to favour its constitution, development and stability”. The last place the Pope visited was Zadar, on the feast of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church: “As in the past, so today Mary continues to be present in the ecclesial Community: a presence humble and discreet but which animates prayer and life according to the Spirit; a contemplative presence, able to call pastors and faithful to the primacy of interior life, listening to and assimilating of the Word of God, indispensable condition for a convinced and effective proclamation of the Gospel”. The Holy Father concluded by underlining that also during this journey he was able to see “how much Christianity has contributed to the development, artistic, cultural, but above all spiritual and moral, of Croatia and its people. It is on this solid basis that now, at the beginning of the Third Millennium, the beloved Croat nation can continue to build its cohesion and stability, in order to integrate itself harmoniously with the consortium of the European peoples ”. SL (Fides Service 12/6/2003 EM lines24 Words: 345)