VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2003 ( John Paul II addressed the 4th World Meeting of Families via satellite television, telling his listeners that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family."

On hearing these words, the 350,000 people who had gathered Saturday in Manila's Quirino Grand Stand broke out in applause.

The Pope gave his listeners, families from 75 countries, a clear charge: "Make the Gospel the guiding principle of your families, and make your families a page of the Gospel written for our time!"

Christian spouses must "be good news for the third millennium by bearing convincing and consistent witness to the truth about the family," said the Pontiff, whose image beamed from a giant video screen.

"The family founded on marriage is a patrimony of humanity, a great good of priceless value, necessary for life, development and the future of peoples," he explained.

"The family, as the primary school in which the human person is formed, is indispensable for a true human ecology," the Pope emphasized.

Several families who went to Manila for the event gave their testimonies before the papal address.

Amid songs and cheers dedicated to John Paul II, the participants heard other representatives of the Church, including the papal legate to the event, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The Pope, dressed in white, spoke from the Vatican, surrounded by immigrant Philippine families living in Rome. Several times children darted to his side.

John Paul II highlighted the rosary, "prayer of the family and for the family" in which families "place Jesus at the center, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on."

The Holy Father announced that the next World Meeting of Families would be in Valencia, Spain, in 2006.