By Karna Swanson
MEXICO CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged thousands of families in Mexico and around the world to mobilize themselves to promote a culture and politics of the family.
The Pope said this in a video message he sent to those participating in the closing Mass of the VI World Meeting of Families, which ended today in Mexico City. The five-day international event was held under the theme “The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values.”
The video message was scheduled to be shown Saturday during the celebration of the family held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but due to rain it was postponed and shown today before the closing Mass.
Attendance to the two weekend events at the Marian shrine was well below original predictions, due in part to the sudden cold front that brought rain and a significant dip in temperatures to the mountain capital since last Monday.
Organizers told ZENIT that an estimated 20,000 attended the celebration of the family Saturday, and on Sunday more than 30,000 were present in the basilica and atrium. Thousands more were watching the closing Mass on giant television screens situated on the street in front of the shrine.
More than 10,000 turned out for each day of the theological-pastoral congress held Wednesday through Friday, exceeding all participation records of any other international family meetings.
In Benedict XVI’s video message, he noted the necessity “to develop a culture and a politics of the family, that are driven in an organized manner by the families themselves.”
With his words, the Pope urged families “to unite yourselves to the associations that promote the identity and rights of the family, according to an anthropologic vision that is coherent with the Gospel.” He then invited “these associations to coordinate themselves and collaborate with each other so that their actions be more incisive.”
The Bishop of Rome called the family the “vital cell of society, the first and decisive resource for its development, and many times the last refuge for those whose needs aren’t meet by the established social structures.”
“For it’s essential social function,” he added, “the family has the right to be recognized in it proper identity and to not be confused with other forms of living together.”
The Holy Father said the family should also be able to count on “deserved cultural, legal, economic, social and medical protection,” and that the state should offer families school choice.
The Holy Father said the Christian family, “living with confidence and in filial obedience to God, with fidelity and in generously accepting children, caring for the weakest and ready to forgive, becomes a living Gospel that all can read.”
In this context, the Pope gave the family the work of presenting “its testimony of life and its explicit profession of faith in the various spheres of its environment, such as the school and various associations”
Likewise, he asked that families commit themselves “to the catechetical formation of their children, and the pastoral activities of their parochial community, especially those related to marriage preparation or directly related to family life.”
“To work for the family is to work for the dignified and luminous future of humanity and for the building of the Kingdom of God.” The family, he concluded, is called “to be evangelized and evangelizer, humane and humanizing.”