01/01/2010, 00.00
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Pope tells armed groups to «stop and abandon the path of violence»

Benedict XVI appeals to «all armed groups» to have the courage to strive for peace. Families and individuals have a responsibility in promoting an education that changes «lifestyles». The Pontiff sent his greetings to the people taking part in the march promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes for the New Year during the first Angelus of 2010. In it, he made an appeal to all armed groups to abandon the «path of violence», and urged one and all to take care of creation, something which begins with education and a change in lifestyle.

 After celebrating Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica on the World Day of Peace , the Pope appeared at his window overlooking a square that was overflowing with tens of thousands of faithful. He wished everyone «that the year that just began may be one in which, with the help of the Lord, we may be able to improve our common house, the world.»
Referring to his Message for peace «If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation», Benedict XVI stressed the responsibilities of the heads of states who met in Copenhagen at the time when his message was published. «However, at this moment, I want to stress the importance of protecting the environment for it is the result of the choices made by individuals, families and local administrations,» the Pope said. ‘A change in outlook is necessary to have everyone adopt new lifestyle‘ (cf Message, nº 11).
Everyone of us in fact has a responsibility in protecting and taking care of creation. Therefore, even on this matter, education is fundamental in order to learn respect for nature and move towards ‘far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and state’ (ibid).»
Yet, taking care of living creatures also means «considering people» and «respecting human life». «On the first day of the year, I want to appeal to the conscience of those who belong to all armed groups. To each and everyone of them I say: Stop, reflect and abandon the path of violence! On the short run, this might seem impossible to you, but if you have the courage to do it, God will help you, and you will feel the joy of peace feel your hearts once more, something that perhaps you had forgotten».
The Pope entrusted his appeal to the «intercession of the Holiest Mother of God, Mary. [. . .] Thank you Holy Mother, who gave birth to the Saviour, the Prince of Peace!»
At the end of the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI thanked all those who sent him greetings. He also expressed his best wishes to the President of Italy. Lastly, he sent a «cordial greeting to all those who took part in the ‘Peace in All Lands‘ march, promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome and in many other countries around the world.»
«I express my spiritual closeness to the many peace initiatives organised by individual Churches, associations and Ecclesial movement,» he added. Among them, Benedict XVI mentioned the «Family Love Movement» and the young people of the Opera Don Orione who, last night, «held a watch in Saint Peter’s Square, praying for unity and peace within families and between nations.»
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