07/08/2006, 00.00
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Pope tells governments not to obstacle the family, font of love and joy

At the closing vigil of the fifth World Meeting of Families, Benedict XVI exalted the family as a "necessary good for all peoples". There were testimonies from different nations.

Valencia (AsiaNews) – At the vigil which brought the fifth World Meeting of Families in Valencia to a close, Benedict XVI urged the governments of the world "to reflect on the evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals and the family, the neuralgic center of society", and on the family as a "a school of humanity", which bears fruit in society and the whole world. "To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love," said the pope. "Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger and more truly free."

More than one and a half million people, of all ages and continents, gathered to listen to the pope, participating in the grand meeting that unfolded amid the futuristic background of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. Right in the midst of the ultra-modern structures, the pope continued to eulogize, in a sort of sweet litany, the inestimable and perennial value of the family: "The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding." And again: "The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all."

It is through the experience of the family that man and woman receive maturity of life and their relationship: "Man has been made in the image and likeness of God for love and that complete human fulfillment only comes about when we make a sincere gift of ourselves to others. The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love." The family is the place where "the creature conceived" is "accepted and loved"; where children grow up as "free and responsible persons" and where grandparents are "a treasure" for "new generations".

The defence of the family arises from natural and spiritual roots. Quoting a teaching of John Paul II, Benedict XVI said: "Man has been made 'in the image and likeness' of God not only by his being human, but also by the communion of the persons that man and woman have formed since the beginning. They become the image of God, not so much in their aloneness as in their communion."

All the pope's positive statements served to highlight the negative manifestations of a death culture that is prevalent in many demographic, pro-euthanasia and anti-family policies in many states in Europe and the rest of the world. Benedict XVI mentioned "hedonism, which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty", the dispersion "generated especially in urban settings" and "solitude". In the face of all this, Christians must "continue to proclaim the Gospel of the family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth." The pontiff said: "When families are not closed in on themselves, children come to learn that every person is worthy of love, and that there is a basic, universal brotherhood which embraces every human being."

Before the pope's address, some families from Gabon, the Philippines, Lithuania, Germany, Panama and the United States recounted their testimony.

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