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May 24, 1987


Without respect for human life in its origins there is no Future for society

On Sunday 24 May the Pope went from Manfredonia to Foggia. He was officially welcomed by national and local civil authorities at the Gino Lisa Airport. The Holy Father spoke as follows:

Mr Minister,

Mr Mayor,

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the City of Foggia,

1. I am delighted to be with you today in this land rich in humanity, faith, industriousness and hope.

I thank the Minister who has greeted me in the name of the Italian Government, and the Mayor for his courteous words addressed to me on behalf of the townspeople. I thank and greet all present, and hope that my pilgrimage in the Capitanata region will leave a deep mark of spirituality and confidence in each of you as a fruit of communion.

2. It pleases me to recall immediately that the city of Foggia traces its origins from an event tied to the Christian faith. I refer to the finding of that icon depicting the Mother of God and of mankind, which you venerate with so much devotion under the name of the "Icona vetere", and which is also dear to my heart because it reminds me a great deal of the Virgin of Jasna Gora.

Your whole history of nearly a millennium is pervaded by a lively sense of the Gospel. From the most ancient times to the present, sanctuaries and centers of Christian faith have arisen and continue to arise. Your land is witness to a long tradition of throngs of pilgrims uninterruptedly treading your soil, coming to draw strength for their harsh and difficult journey through life. Here there flourished in many forms the most authentic sanctity, springing forth from the very core of the Christian people.

Dear brothers and sisters of Foggia, I have come here on other occasions as a pilgrim and as the pastor of a particular flock. Today it is as Pastor of the universal Church that I come to visit the five dioceses of the Capitanata region for three days.

I already know in great part the problems that assail you and the difficulties which you must face daily. While it is my hope that the competent authorities at the various levels will meet your needs promptly and with adequate responses, I wish to emphasize that the faith born of the Gospel, which has its center in the Man-God who died and rose for us, is a spiritual force capable of giving strength in the midst of life's difficulties; it is also a vital seed capable of inspiring solutions of social justice, of human development of the revitalization of every form of good

A higher task

3. Brothers and sisters, the plain of the Tavoliere, encircled by an amphitheater of mountains, has always been distinguished by the industriousness of its people. This land was once a swampy and unhealthy steppe; human work transformed it into pasture and woods, the land of small inhabited centers. Today it is an agricultural-industrial zone of singular importance. It is a gift which your ancestors have left you as an inheritance, which you have received as such, and which you feel committed to bring to fruition. However, above all, you are left with the task of performing, on the human, social and Christian plane, an even higher task: that of assuring that work is not only a means to earn a living for one self and one's family, but also a factor elevating the human person. He can thus express his capacities, realize his healthy aspirations and attain his highest goals, which transcend the material order.

In this most exalted task you will find stimulation and help in the Christian matrix of your traditions, your lively sense of family unity, your tenacious and concrete industriousness which is capable of finding solutions to recurrent problems.

4. Yours is a land which in the course of history has found itself a crossroads of peoples. Your civilization is the result of the meeting of many races, fused in the forge of Christian love. Even today Foggia, with its important railway junction, is the center of a continuous flow of people moving for reasons of work, culture and faith.

May this reality incite you to make a specific contribution towards the realization of the common good, drawing from the inexhaustible source, ever ancient and ever new, of your Christian roots.

Remain faithful to the immeasurable value of the family. Cultivate, as you have always done, love for human life, particularly in its origins. Without this respect there is no future for society.

Join forces in finding the ways necessary to guarantee employment to the young, so that with the security of work young people will discover themselves and not fall victim to the fatal mirages connected with the vile phenomenon of drugs.

Always trust in God's help, which I invoke for you with my blessing.

Priests for Life
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