VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI called for the development of innovative strategies to meet the needs of the modern family as he encouraged the work and initiatives of the Italian-based New Families movement.
The Pope also called the family a “sacred and sanctifying place” when he met Saturday with some 400 participants in the International New Families Meeting, which marked the 40th anniversary of the organization’s foundation.
The New Families movement, sponsored by the Catholic lay Focolare movement, is a network of 800,000 families living in 182 countries.
In his address, Benedict XVI began with a salute to the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich, who the Pope said “continues to guide the great family of the Focolare with wisdom and firm adherence to the Church.”
The Holy Father praised the commitment to “silent and profound evangelization” that New Families promotes, and the organization’s four guiding principles: spirituality, education, sociability and solidarity.
He said that New Families teaches that “it is only family unity, gift of God-Love, that can render the family a true nest of love, a welcoming home of life and school of the Christian virtues and values for children.”
The Pope asked New Families to identify strategies for “meeting the growing needs of the contemporary family and the multiple challenges that it faces, so that its unique mission in the Church and society not falter.”
“In the face of so many social and economic, cultural and religious challenges that contemporary society must deal with in every part of the world,” Benedict XVI said, “your work, truly providential, constitutes a sign of hope and encouragement for Christian families to be the privileged ‘space’ where there is proclaimed in daily life the beauty of putting Jesus Christ at the center and of faithfully following the Gospel.”