Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In the first Angelus of the year, the Pope expressed his best wishes for a “peaceful and useful” New Year to more than 30,000 pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square, entrusting it to “the celestial protection of Our Lady which today’s liturgy makes us invoke using her most ancient and important title, that of Mother of God.” Also in the “name of Mary, Mother of God and of men,” he also entrusted the World Day of Peace, which today celebrates its 41st edition. This year’s chosen theme is the “Human family, Community of Peace.”
“The same love that builds and holds together the family, the vital cell of society, favours among the peoples of the earth the start of relations of solidarity and collaboration suitable to members of the human family. The Second Vatican Council made this point when it asserted that ‘[o]ne is the community of all peoples, one their origin . . . One also is their final goal, God’ (Declaration Nostra Aetate, 1). There is therefore a close link between family, society and peace.”
Quoting his own Message, the Pontiff said that “whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace” (Message, n. 5).
There is also a link between peace and the recognition of God the Creator. Quoting again his Message the Pontiff added that “do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters” (Message, n. 6).
It is then truly important that each one of us assume our own responsibilities before God and recognise in Him the original source of one’s own existence and that of others. From this awareness comes a commitment to make humanity a true community of peace under a ‘common law . . . one which would foster true freedom . . . and protect the weak from oppression by the strong (Message, n. 11).”
The Pope concluded his brief reflection praying that “Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace, may sustain the Church in its indefatigable service to peace and help the community of peoples, which in 2008 celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its journey of true solidarity and stable peace.”
Following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI thanked all those who sent him best wishes, mentioning in particular the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano.
He also thanked “all those who promoted and participate in” the innumerable initiatives “sponsored by Church communities in every continent” for World Day of peace. Among them he singled out the rally for “Peace in All Lands” organised by the Sant’Egidio community in Rome and in many other cities around the world, last night’s prayer vigil in St Peter’s Square by the Family Love Movement, and the “Peace Torch” by the Centro sportivo italiano (Italian Sport Centre) which Benedict XVI blessed and which will be brought to the Holy Land by a marathon runner.