Sunday 26 December 1999



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. This Sunday we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, and it is very significant that this year it takes place the day after Christmas and the opening of the Great Jubilee.
I would therefore like to extend
my special good wishes to families: a merry Christmas and a happy Jubilee Year to you all, families of Rome and of the entire world! The Jubilee that marks the 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth is yours in a particular way, because it recalls how God chose to enter human history through a family.


2. At the beginning of the Holy Year 2000, today's feast gives me a favourable opportunity to appeal anew for the rights of the family, of life and of children which are also recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed, in order to promote human rights, those of the family must be protected since it is from families that a full response can be made to the challenges of the present and the future.


The family is a community of love and life, which is created when a man and a woman give themselves to one another without reserve in marriage, open to the gift of children. The fundamental right to life is inherent in the human being from the moment of conception and is the essence of natural law and of the traditions of the great religions, as well as of the spirit of Article Three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The union between the mother and the child conceived and the irreplaceable role of the father require that the child be welcomed into a family which, as far as possible, will guarantee the presence of both parents. The specific contribution made by each one to the family and through it, to society, deserves the highest esteem.


3. Today families need the special protection of the public authorities which are often subjected to pressure groups concerned to have passed as law what is actually the fruit of a selfish and subjectivist mentality.


"The future of humanity passes by way of the family" (Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris consortio, n. 86); and the great family of nations is built from this small but fundamental cell. May God enlighten legislators, leaders, and every person of good will, in order to promote the effective protection of the rights of the family, of life and of children.


May we be helped in this by the Holy Family of Nazareth, who welcomed and helped to raise the Redeemer of the world.




After leading the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father prayed for all those in the world who are suffering, and thanked the volunteer workers for the Jubilee:


In these days when the Christmas atmosphere invites people to improve themselves and become more fraternal, we must pray for the peoples living in great suffering.


In particular we feel close to the inhabitants of Chechnya, just as we cannot forget the many peoples of Africa, among whom I would like to mention the citizens of Côte d'Ivoire who are going through a difficult period in their history.


To all who strive to take the way of harmony and peace I say: have the courage of a loyal and persevering dialogue, so that brotherhood, which Jesus, made man, came to offer as a gift to all humanity, can at last become a reality for everyone.


I also greet the first group of Jubilee volunteer workers who have most generously offered their services to help pilgrims. Dear friends, your valuable work and the work of those who will follow your example will, I am certain, help to show the welcoming face of the Church.


Happy holidays and happy Jubilee Year.



Feast of the Holy Family
Sunday, 29 December 2002


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. The liturgy of this Sunday, a few days after Christmas, invites us to contemplate the Holy Family of Nazareth, a wonderful model of human and supernatural virtues for all Christian families. Let us meditate on the mystery of this unique family: we can find in it values and teachings which today are more indispensable than ever to give human society sound and stable foundations.


2. How I would like the peace, harmony and love of the house in Nazareth to exist in families today! I ask the Lord with insistent prayer to make all Christian parents conscious of their irreplaceable task with regard to their children and to society. A true and effective Gospel witness is expected of them.


Every Christian family is called to show "convincingly that it is possible to live marriage fully in keeping with God's plan and with the true good of the human person - of the spouses, and of the children who are more fragile" (Novo Millennio ineunte, n. 47).


A united family that follows these principles will more easily overcome the trials and difficulties it encounters on its way. In the faithful love of the parents, a gift ceaselessly to foster and safeguard, children can find the best conditions for their growth, helped by Jesus who "increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2,52).


3. Today let us entrust to the Holy Family of Nazareth the families of the whole world, especially those that have been most harshly tried by suffering or are in difficulty. In particular, I would like to place the Fourth World Meeting of Families, scheduled to take place in Manila, the Philippines, from 22 to 26 January, under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin, of St Joseph and of the Infant Jesus. The theme chosen - The Christian family: good news for the third millennium - expresses the mission of every Christian family and the Church's confidence in it. May this important event bring the desired spiritual fruits for the Church and for all humanity!




After the Angelus


I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims and in particular the faithful of the parish of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Talamona, Sondrio.


I then recall that on Tuesday, 31 December, at six o'clock in the evening I will preside at the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Blessed Mary, Mother of God. To conclude, in accordance with tradition, we will sing the Te Deum of thanksgiving for the year that is ending.


From this moment I offer everyone my cordial good wishes for peace and spiritual joy in the new year.




St Peter's Square
Sunday, 28 December 2008


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


On this Sunday following the Nativity of the Lord we are joyfully celebrating the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is a most suitable context because Christmas is the Feast of the family par excellence. This is demonstrated by numerous traditions and social customs, especially the practice of gathering together as a family for festive meals and for greetings and the exchange of gifts; and how can the hardship and suffering caused by certain family wounds which on these occasions are amplified go unnoticed? Jesus willed to be born and to grow up in a human family; he had the Virgin Mary as his mother and Joseph who acted as his father; they raised and educated him with immense love. Jesus' family truly deserves the title "Holy", for it was fully engaged in the desire to do the will of God, incarnate in the adorable presence of Jesus. On the one hand, it was a family like all others and as such, it is a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice and entrustment to divine Providence, hard work and solidarity in short, of all those values that the family safeguards and promotes, making an important contribution to forming the fabric of every society. At the same time, however, the Family of Nazareth was unique, different from all other families because of its singular vocation linked to the mission of the Son of God. With precisely this uniqueness it points out to every family and in the first place to Christian families God's horizon, the sweet and demanding primacy of his will, the prospect of Heaven to which we are all destined. For all this, today we thank God, but also the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, who with much faith and willingness cooperated in the Lord's plan of salvation.


Thousands of people are meeting in Madrid today to express the beauty and value of the family. I would now like to speak to them in Spanish.


I now address a cordial greeting to the participants gathered at this moving celebration in Madrid to pray for the family and to commit with fortitude and hope to work in its favour. The family is certainly a grace of God through which transpires what God himself is: Love an entirely free love that sustains boundless fidelity, even in times of difficulty or dejection. These qualities are reflected eminently in the Holy Family in which Jesus came into the world, was raised and was filled with wisdom, with Mary's thoughtful care and St Joseph's faithful custody. Dear families, do not let the love, openness to life and incomparable ties that unite your home weaken. Ask God for this constantly, pray together so that your resolutions may be enlightened by faith and strengthened by divine grace on the path to holiness. Thus, with the joy of sharing all things in love, you will give the world a beautiful witness to how important the family is for the human person and for society. The Pope is beside you, praying the Lord especially for those in every family who are most in need of health, work, comfort and company. In this Angelus prayer, I entrust you all to our Mother in Heaven, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.


Dear brothers and sisters, in speaking of the family, I cannot then omit to recall that from 14 to 18 January 2009 the Sixth World Meeting of Families will be taking place in Mexico City. Let us pray from this moment for this important ecclesial event and entrust every family to the Lord, especially those families most sorely tried by life's difficulties and by the scourges of misunderstanding and division. May the Redeemer, born in Bethlehem, give to all of them serenity and the strength to walk united on the path of good.




Appeal for an end to violence in the Holy Land


Dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Land, which during the days of Christmas has been at the centre of the thought and affection of the faithful in every part of the world, is once again being devastated by an outbreak of unprecedented violence. I am deeply distressed over the deaths, the injured, the material damage, the suffering and the tears of the peoples who are victims of this tragic sequence of attacks and reprisals. The earthly homeland of Jesus cannot continue to witness such bloodshed that is endlessly repeated! I implore an end to that violence, which is to be condemned in all its forms and a restoration of the truce in the Gaza Strip. I ask for an impulse of humanity and wisdom in all who have responsibility in this situation; I implore the international community to leave no stone unturned to help Israelis and Palestinians to emerge from this blind alley and not to be resigned, as I said two days ago in my Urbi et Orbi Message, to the perverse logic of conflict and violence but rather to privilege the path of dialogue and negotiation. Let us entrust our fervent prayers for these intentions to Jesus, Prince of Peace, and let us say to him, to Mary and to Joseph: "O family of Nazareth, expert in suffering, give peace to the world". Give it today to the Holy Land especially!


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