Pope Benedict visits the Co-Cathedral of Sansepolcro May 13 accompanied by Archbishop Riccardo Fontana, the local bishop.

CNS PHOTO | GIAMPIERO SPOSITO, REUTERS

Pope Benedict visits the Co-Cathedral of Sansepolcro May 13 accompanied by Archbishop Riccardo Fontana, the local bishop.

May 21, 2012

Celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of a town founded to be a model of Gospel peace and justice, Pope Benedict said Christians today must find ways to infuse their cities and nations with Gospel values while welcoming and respecting people with other beliefs.

In his evening visit May 13 to Sansepolcro, the pope urged the townspeople to use the anniversary to emulate Sts. Arcanus and Aegidius, who established the town after returning from Jerusalem.

The saints saw the town as a place where Christians could fulfill their vocation to build a society marked by peace through the practice of justice, he said.

"Today there is a particular need for the Church's service to the world to be expressed through enlightened lay faithful," involved in civil society "with a desire to serve that goes beyond their private interests and beyond partisan views," he said.

"The common good counts more than the good of the individual, and it's up to Christians to contribute to the birth of new public ethics," the pope said.

The challenge facing the people of Sansepolcro is to take the city's founding ideals as a Christian town and harmonize them with acceptance of others and "the incorporation of different cultures and sensibilities" as the population becomes more diverse, the pope said.