Papal Address to Family Meeting

«It Is in the Home Where One Learns to Truly Live»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI gave via video linkup at the conclusion of Sunday’s closing Mass of the 6th World Meeting of Families. The world meeting was held last week in Mexico City.

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Dear brothers and sisters:

I greet all of you with affection at the end of this solemn Eucharistic celebration with which the 6th World Meeting of Families is concluding in Mexico City. I give thanks to God for so many families that, without counting the cost, have gathered around the altar of the Lord.

I greet in a special way the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, who has presided over this celebration as my legate. I want to express my affection and my gratitude to Cardinal Ennio Antonelii and to the members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, over which he presides, to the Cardinal Archbishop Primate of Mexico, Norberto Rivera Carrera, and the central commission that has been responsible for the organization of this 6th World Meeting. My recognition goes to all those who with their abnegated dedication and surrender have made its fulfillment possible.

I also greet the cardinals and bishops present in this celebration, in particular those of the Mexican episcopal conference, and the authorities of this dear nation, who generously have welcomed and made possible this important event.

The Mexican people know well that they are very close to the heart of the Pope. I think of them and I present to God the Father their joys and hopes, their projects and concerns. In Mexico, the Gospel has taken deep roots, forging its traditions and culture, and the identity of its noble people. This rich patrimony must be protected so that it continues being a spring of moral and spiritual energies to courageously and creatively face the challenges of today and so that it can be offered as a precious gift to new generations.

I have participated with joy and interest in this World Meeting, above all with my prayer, giving specific guidelines and attentively following its preparation and development. Today, through the communications media, I have spiritually made a pilgrimage to this Marian shrine, heart of Mexico and of all of America, so as to entrust all the families of the world to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

2. This World Meeting of Families has aimed to encourage Christian homes so that their members be free persons, rich in human and Gospel values, on the way toward sanctity, which is the best service that Christians can offer today’s society. The Christian response to the challenges that must be confronted by families and human life in general, consists in intensifying trust in the Lord and the vigor that springs from one’s faith, which is nourished by attentive listening to the Word of God. How beautiful it is to gather as a family to allow God to speak to the hearts of the members through his living and effective Word. In prayer, especially with the praying of the rosary, as was done yesterday, the family contemplates the mysteries of the life of Jesus, interiorizes the values that it meditates and feels called to incarnate them in their lives.

3. The family is an indispensable base for society and for peoples, as well as an irreplaceable good for children, worthy of coming into life as a fruit of love, of the parents’ total and generous surrender. As Jesus showed in honoring the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the family occupies a primary place in the education of the person. It is a true school of humanity and perennial values. No one has given being to himself. We have received life from others, which is developed and matured with the truths and values that we learn in relation and communion with the rest. In this sense, the family founded on the indissoluble matrimony between a man and a woman expresses this relational, filial and communitarian dimension, and is the realm where man can be born with dignity, grow and develop in an integral way (cf. Homily in the Holy Mass of the 5th World Meeting of Families, Valencia, July 9, 2006).

Nevertheless, this education task is made difficult by a deceptive concept of liberty, in which whims and the subjective impulses of the individual are exalted to the point of leaving each one locked within the prison of his own «I.» The true liberty of the human being comes from having been created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore should be exercised with responsibility, always opting for the true good so that it becomes love, gift of self. For this, more than theories, the intimacy and love characteristic of the familial community are needed. It is in the home where one learns to truly live, to value life and health, liberty and peace, justice and truth, work, concord and respect.

4. Today more than ever is needed the testimony and public commitment of all the baptized to reaffirm the dignity and the unique and irreplaceable value of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman and open to life, as well as the [value] of human life in all its stages. Legislative and administrative measures that support families in their inalienable rights, necessary to carry forward their extraordinary mission, should also be promoted. The testimonies presented in yesterday’s celebration show that today, too, the family can show itself to be firm in the love of God and renew humanity in the new millennium.

5. I want to express my closeness and assure my prayers for all families that give a testimony of fidelity in especially difficult circumstances. I encourage numerous families that, living sometimes in the midst of contradictions and incomprehension, give an example of generosity and trust in God, expressing my desire that needed help is not lacking for them. I think also of the families that suffer poverty, illness, marginalization or emigration. And very especially of the Christian families that are persecuted because of their faith. The Pope is very close to all of you and he accompanies you in your efforts of every day.

6. Before concluding this meeting, it pleases me to announce that that 7th World Meeting of Families will take place, God willing, in Italy, in the city of Milan, in 2012, with the theme, «Family, Work and Celebration.» I sincerely thank Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, for his hospitality in accepting this important commitment.

I entrust all the families of the world to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin, so highly venerated in the noble Mexican land in her image from Guadalupe. To her, who always reminds us that our happiness is in doing the will of Christ (cf. John 2:5), I say now:

Most Holy Mother of Guadalupe
who has shown your love and tenderness
to the peoples of the American continent,
shower with joy and hope all the peoples
and all the families of the world.

To you, who goes before [us] and guides our journey in the faith
toward the eternal homeland,
we entrust the joys, the projects,
the concerns and the desires of every family.

Oh Mary,
to you we turn, trusting in your motherly tenderness;
do not ignore the petitions we direct to you
for the families of all the world
in this crucial period of history.
Instead, gather all of us in your maternal heart
and accompany us in our journey to the celestial home.


[Translation by Kathleen Naab]
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