12/28/2008, 00.00
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Pope appeals for truce to be restored in the Gaza Strip

Benedict XVI also sends a Message in Spanish to thousands of people gathered in Madrid in defence of the family, and talks about the World Meeting of Families scheduled for Mexico City.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI has called on Palestinians and Israelis to show a “jolt of humanity” and to put an “end to violence” by restoring the “truce in the Gaza Strip” that ended on 19 December, which was marked by renewed rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinians on Israel’s Negev region and by Israeli air raids that yesterday alone killed at least 200 people. The Pope has also called on the international community “not to leave any stone unturned to help Israelis and Palestinians out of this blind alley, and not to give in to this perverse logic of confrontation and violence, but favour instead the path of dialogue and negotiations.”

In an addition to the prepared text for today’s Angelus the Pontiff said: “Dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Land, which at Christmastide is at the centre of the faithful’s thoughts and affection in every corner of the world, is shaken once again by unprecedented violence. I am deeply saddened by the dead, the wounded, the material damages, the suffering and the tears of the populations victimised by this tragic chain of attacks and retaliations. The native land of Jesus cannot continue to be witness to so much bloodshed, repeating itself without end. I implore an end to this violence which must be condemned in all its forms, and a restoration of the truce in the Gaza Strip. I call for a jolt of humanity and wisdom in all those who have a responsibility in this situation. I call on the international community not to leave any stone unturned to help Israelis and Palestinians out of this blind alley, and not to give in to the perverse logic of confrontation and violence, as I said two days ago during the Urbi et Orbi message, but favour instead the path of dialogue and negotiations. Let us entrust Jesus, the Prince of Peace, with our fervid prayer for these aims and to Him, Mary and Joseph, let us say: ‘Oh family of Nazareth, expert in suffering, give peace to the world.’ Give it today, especially to the Holy Land!”

Beforehand Benedict XVI had devoted his reflection ahead of the Marian prayer to today’s feast day, dedicated to the Holy Family, one of Christmastide’s celebrations. In a special message to families gathered in Madrid in defence of the family institution, he stressed that the “family is certainly a grace of God which reveals what He is, love; love that is completely free, that is limitless in its support for faithfulness even at times of difficulty or dejection.”

In Spain the Catholic Church has been involved for some time in the defence of the natural family against the secularist and liberal worldview that the Spanish government has also promoted.

Speaking in Spanish to groups in Madrid he added: “Dear families! Do not let love, openness to life and incomparable ties that unite your households weaken! Constantly ask the Lord for it! Pray united, so that your aims are enlightened by faith and corroborated by divine grace on the path towards holiness! This way, with the joy of lovingly sharing everything, you shall give the world a beautiful witness of how important the family is for the human person and society. The Pope stands by you, praying especially to the Lord for all those in every family who are in need of health, work, comfort and company. In this prayer, the Angelus, I entrust everyone to our heavenly Mother, the Holiest Virgin Mary.”

“Christmas,” the Pope said again, “is the family celebration par excellence. A great number of traditions and social customs are evidence of that, especially that of getting together, in family, to share family meals, greetings and gift-giving. How can one not see that in such circumstances, embarrassment and pain caused by some family hurt grow bigger?”

“Jesus chose to be born and grow up in a human family. The Virgin Mary was his mother and Joseph was his father. They raised and educated him with a lot of love. Jesus’ family deserves indeed the title ‘holy’ because it was fully occupied by a desire to fulfill God’s will, incarnated in Jesus’ presence. On the one hand, it was a regular family like any other and as such it was a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice, reliance on divine Providence, industriousness and solidarity; in short, it was model of all those values that the family holds and promotes, contributing in a primary way to a society’s social fabric. At the same time, the Family of Nazareth was unique, different from all others because of its unique vocation associated with the Mission of the Son of God. Precisely because of its uniqueness, it shows every family, first and foremost Christian families, God’s horizon, the sweet and demanding primacy of his will, the prospect of Heaven to which we are destined. For all this we give thanks to God, but also to the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, who with so much faith and readiness cooperated in the Lord’s plan of salvation.”

In his address the Pontiff also mentioned that the 6th World Meeting of the Family will be held in Mexico City on 14-18 January 2009 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Family on the theme of the ‘The family, teacher in human and Christian values.’

“Let us pray,” said the Pope by way of conclusion, “for this important ecclesial event, and let us entrust each family to the Lord, especially those most tried by life’s difficulties and afflicted by the bane of misunderstanding and division. May the Redeemer, who was born in Bethlehem, give everyone serenity and strength to march united on the path of goodness.”

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