Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Today’s Angelus was a special one, dedicated to the family. Benedict XVI, who mentioned that today was the Feast of the Holy Family, was “linked” to Plaza de Colon in Madrid, where a celebration of the family was underway, a meeting sponsored by Spain’s Catholic bishops and Spanish Catholic associations aimed at reasserting the value of the family defined as a man, a woman, and their children, as well as parents’ responsibility in education and the need for society to support the family as an institution in which children and the elderly are welcomed. Every diocese and Church movement joined the celebration which brought together an estimated 1.5 million people in Madrid’s Plaza de Colon.
Speaking to them (in Spanish) the Pope said: “Contemplating the mystery of the Son of God who came into the world surrounded by the affection of Mary and Joseph, I urge Christian families to experience the loving presence of the Lord in their life. At the same time I urged them to bear witness before the world of the beauty of human love, marriage and family, finding inspiration in Christ’s love for mankind. Based on an indissoluble union between a man and a woman, it [the family] constitutes the privileged sphere in which human life is welcomed and protected, from its beginning to its natural end.”
In a veiled criticism of the Spanish government, which has legally recognised homosexual unions and has decided to eliminate religious education from schools, the Pontiff added: “Parents have the right and the fundamental duty to educate their children in their faith and the values that give dignity to human existence. It is worthwhile to work for the family and marriage because it is worthwhile to work for human beings, the most precious being created by God.”
Earlier Benedict XVI mentioned the significance of today’s celebration, the Feast Day of the Holy Family. He said: “In accordance with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, let us look at Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and worship the mystery of a God who chose to be born from a woman, the Holy Virgin, and come into this world the way all men do. This way He sanctified the reality of the family, filling it with divine grace, fully revealing its vocation and mission.”
The Pope mentioned important teachings by the Second Vatican Council on the family. “[H]usbands and wives find their proper vocation in being witnesses of the faith and love of Christ to one another and to their children (cf LG, 35). The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come” (ibid).
In remembering John Paul II for whom “what is good for people and society is strictly connected to the ‘good health’ of the family,” Benedict XVI reiterated that “the Church is committed to defend and promote the ‘the holiness and to foster the natural dignity” (GS, 47)of marriage and the family.”
Finally, the Pope greeted the tens of thousands of faithful in Saint Peter’s Square, wishing them joy in the New Year.