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Thursday, December 1, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family led by their president, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. This year's plenary coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and his creation of the pontifical council itself.

  In his remarks, the Pope noted that "in our time, as in the past, the eclipse of God, the spread of an anti-family ideology and the abasement of sexual morality appear interconnected". This is why "the new evangelisation is inseparable from the Christian family. The family is the Church's 'path', because it is a 'human place' in which we encounter Christ. ... The family founded on the Sacrament of Marriage is an individual microcosm of the Church, a community which is saved and saves, which is evangelised and evangelises. Like the Church, the family is called to live, irradiate and express to the world the love and presence of Christ".

  Accepting and transmitting divine love, Benedict XVI explained, "comes about in the spouses' dedication to one another, in generous and responsible procreation, in raising and educating children, in work and social relations, in care for the needy, participation in Church activity and commitment to civil society". The Christian family "reflects the splendour of Christ and the beauty of the divine Trinity in the world" in the extent to which it manages to experience love "as communion and service, as reciprocal gift and openness to everyone".

  The Pope then recalled his recent visit to Ancona to close the Italian National Eucharistic Congress where he had met priests and married coupes together. "Both these states of life", he said, "have the same roots in Christ's love whereby He gave Himself for the salvation of humanity; they are called to a shared mission of bearing witness to this love, and causing it to be present through service to the community for the edification of the people of God. Such a perspective enables us to overcome a reductive vision in which the family is seen as the mere recipient of pastoral activity. ... The family is the best place to impart human and Christian education, and thus remains the greatest ally of priestly ministry".

  The Pope then identified a number of areas in which the cooperation of priests and Christian families is vital: educating children, adolescents and young people in love, seen as communion and the gift of self; preparing engaged couples for marriage; forming spouses; participating in charitable, educational and civil activities, and in pastoral care by families for families.

  Finally, referring to the forthcoming seventh World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Milan, Italy, in June 2012, the Pope said: "It will be a great joy for me and for us all to come together, pray and rejoice with families from all over the world".
AC/                                    VIS 20111201 (490)

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