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Monday, April 7, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 5 APR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received participants in the 18th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which was held from 3 to 5 April on the theme: "The presence and witness of grandparents in families".

  After highlighting how the Church has always recognised grandparents' "great richness in human and social, religious and spiritual terms", the Pope recalled how "in the past grandparents played an important role in the life and growth of the family. Even as they got older, they continued to be present for their children, grandchildren and perhaps even great-grandchildren, providing a living witness of kindness, sacrifice and a daily and unreserved giving of self".

  "Today, the economic and social evolution has brought about profound transformations in the lives of families", noted the Holy Father. Some elderly people feel "a burden to their family and prefer to live alone or in rest homes, with all the consequences such choices bring.

  "Unfortunately", he added, "the 'culture of death' seems to be gaining ground on various sides, threatening even the period of old age. With growing insistence, euthanasia is even proposed as a solution to resolve certain difficult situations". Hence "it is necessary to react forcefully to that which dehumanises society. ... We must unite to defeat all forms of marginalisation together, because it is not just they (grandparents and the elderly) who are overwhelmed by the individualistic mentality, but everyone. If, as is often said, grandparents represent a valuable resource, it is important to make coherent choices in order to take full advantage of them".

  The Pope called for grandparents to return as a "living presence in the family, in the Church and in society. ... May they continue to be witnesses of unity, of values founded on faithfulness to the one love that generates faith and the joy of life. The so-called new models of the family and rampant relativism have weakened these fundamental values of the family nucleus".

  "Faced with the crisis of the family," the Holy Father asked, "is it not perhaps possible to start afresh from the presence and witness of people (grandparents) who have more robust values and projects? It is not, in fact, possible to plan the future without drawing on a past full of significant experiences and of points of spiritual and moral reference".

  The Pope concluded his remarks by recalling that the 6th World Meeting of Families, is due be held in Mexico in 2009. And he invited ecclesial communities, especially family groups, movements and associations "to prepare themselves spiritually for this event of grace".
AC/GRANDPARENTS/...                        VIS 20080407 (450)

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