Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up his visit to Croatia on Sunday by denouncing the “disintegration” of family life in Europe and calling for couples to make a commitment to marry and have children, not just live together.

Benedict stressed traditional Catholic family values, including opposition to abortion, during an open-air Mass attended by about 400,000 people at Zagreb’s hippodrome, the highlight of his trip to mark the local church’s national day of families.

The faithful, who came in droves from across Croatia and surrounding countries, arrived before dawn at the field muddied by overnight thunderstorms.

The sun shone through the clouds as Benedict celebrated Mass before a crowd of flag-waving faithful whose numbers exceeded estimates of 300,000 and whose devotion seemed to deeply impress the pontiff. Later, Benedict prayed before the tomb of a Croatian World War II-era cardinal hailed by Catholics for opposing communism but criticized by Jews for sympathizing with the Nazis.

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