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Families from five continents are meeting in Milan for the 7th World Meeting. It will be these same families that will welcome Benedict XVI on Friday afternoon, 1 June, upon his arrival in the capital of Lombardia.

The participating families – coming from 100 countries including Guinea Bissau, one of the poorest countries, and even Australia from the other side of the world – are not only enlivening the Pastoral Theological Congress’ work at MiCo (Fieramilanocity) and in several places in the city and  various neighbouring dioceses in Lombardia, but are actively participating in all initiatives, such as the “Congress of children”, uniting the youngest participants. At the first gathering, hundreds of children hand-in-hand recited, each in their own language, the “Our Father” for their parents and the victims of the earthquake which struck Emilia Romagna and part of Lombardia. It was an act of solidarity in addition to the fund raising organized by Family 2012 and Caritas Ambrosiana.

In short, as one of the largest posters hung in the city announces: “In Milan, doors open to the world”. Because the family, despite its great changes and challenges, remains the cornerstone of civil life and society. Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, underlined that the World Meeting “desires to offer itself as an event of the people, capable of entering into dialogue with the fundamental needs of every person”. Along that same line, according to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, “the event in Milan, like every true and intense meeting of persons, is made up of a rich, complex and interesting network of relationships”, which must be recognized and welcomed “with gratuitousness, passion and intelligence”.