Address on Christmas as a Celebration of the Family

Pope Greets Children Bringing Figurines of the Christ Child

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2002 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, before reciting the Angelus with them.

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1. There is already a Christmas atmosphere in St. Peter’s Square. The Christmas tree, still being decorated and offered this year by Croatia, has been placed next to the crib. In this connection, I again thank our Croatian brothers and sisters for their kind gift.

However, those who give a special touch of vivacity are you, dear children and youngsters of Rome, who, in keeping with tradition, have come today to have the Infants of your cribs blessed by the Pope. I greet you affectionately and thank you because your joy is in harmony with the spirit of joy that characterizes the Third Sunday of Advent.

I am also thinking of the cribs that you have prepared in your homes and schools together with your parents and teachers. In the grotto, you will place the Babe you hold in your hands between Our Lady and St. Joseph. So, the crib will become the center of schoolrooms and the heart of your families.

Christmas is above all a celebration of the family, because God, being born in a human family, chose it as the first community consecrated by his love.

2. Speaking of families, I am pleased to mention that from Jan. 22-26, 2003, the 4th World Meeting of Families will take place in Manila, capital of the Philippines. The first was held in Rome in 1994, the International Year of the Family. Three years later it was followed by the memorable gathering in Rio de Janeiro; in the year 2000 the families of the whole world met in Rome for the Great Jubilee. The next appointment will serve to relaunch the Gospel of the family in the third millennium.

I thank all those who are working in the preparation of this important meeting in Manila, and I hope that the participation of families will be the largest possible. The world is in need of a sign of hope that comes precisely from Christian families.

3. From now on, I entrust this world appointment to Mary Most Holy, Queen of families. We ask her to protect families all over the earth, especially those living in situations of great poverty and difficulty. May every family nucleus be able to open the doors to the Lord who will come at Christmas to bring joy, peace and love to the world.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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