Papal Message to Ecuador Family Conference

«Society Is Not a Mere Sum of Individuals, But the Result of Relationships»

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2011 ( Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the 2nd National Family Congress in Ecuador, which concludes Saturday.

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To the Venerable Brother Antonio Arregui Yarza

Metropolitan Archbishop of Guayaquil

President of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference

On the occasion of the Second National Family Conference, I greet affectionately the pastors and faithful of the Church in Ecuador who — within the context of the Continental Mission backed in Aparecida by the Latin American and Caribbean episcopates and in preparation for the 7th World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Milan — propose to carry out a process of reflection on the Gospel that will enable Christian spouses and families to respond to their identity, vocation and mission.

The theme of the Congress, «The Ecuadorian Family on Mission: Work and Celebration at the Service of the Person and the Common Good,» recognizes that the family, born from the pact of love and the total and sincere self-giving of a man and a woman in marriage, is not a private reality, enclosed in itself. By its vocation it renders a wonderful and decisive service to the common good of society and to the mission of the Church. In fact, society is not a mere sum of individuals, but the result of relationships between persons — man-woman, parents-children, between siblings — that have their basis in family life and in the bonds of affection that derive from it. Through its children, every family gives society the human richness it has experienced. No wonder it can be affirmed that on the health and quality of family relations depends the health and quality of social relations themselves.

In this connection, work and celebration particularly concern and are deeply linked to the life of families: They condition their choices, influence the relations between spouses and between parents and children, and affect the bonds of the family with society and the Church.

Through work, man experiences himself as subject, a participant in the creative plan of God. This explains why the lack of work or precarious work undermines man’s dignity, creating not only situations of injustice and poverty, which frequently degenerate into despair, criminality and violence, but also into an identity crisis in persons. Hence, it is urgent that effective measures, serious and accurate approaches should arise everywhere, as well as an unbreakable and honest will, which will lead to finding ways so that all will have access to fitting, stable and well remunerated work, through which they are sanctified and participate actively in the development of society, combining intense and responsible work with appropriate times for a rich, fruitful and harmonious family life. A serene and constructive home environment, with its domestic obligations and its affections, is the first school of work and the most adequate place for the person to discover his potential, increase his desire to improve and give way to his most noble aspirations. Moreover, family life teaches one to overcome egoism, to nourish solidarity, to not flinch from sacrifice for the happiness of the other, to value the good and the upright, and to apply oneself with conviction and generosity for the sake of the common good and reciprocal good, being responsible before oneself, others and the environment.

For its part, celebration humanizes time, opening it to the encounter with God, with others and with nature. This is why families need to recover the genuine meaning of celebration, especially of Sunday, the Lord’s day and man’s. In the Sunday Eucharistic celebration, the family experiences here and now the real presence of the Risen Lord, receives new life, welcomes the gift of the Spirit, increases its love of the Church, hears the Divine Word, shares the Eucharistic bread and opens to fraternal love.

With these sentiments, while I reiterate my closeness with and affection for the beloved sons and daughters of this nation, I entrust the fruits of this conference to the powerful intercession of Our Lady of the Presentation of Quinche, heavenly patroness of Ecuador, and, as a pledge of abundant divine favors, I gladly impart to all those present the implored Apostolic Blessing.


November 1, 2011


[Translation by ZENIT]
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