BY KARNA SWANSON IN MEXICO CITY POPE BENEDICT XV/ has encouraged thousands of families in Mexico and around the world to mobilise themselves to promote a culture and politics of the family.
The Pope said in a video message to participants in the closing Mass of the Sixth World Meeting of Families in Mexico City that the family was an institution that needed to be defended.
The five-day international event was held under the theme "The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values".
The Pope noted the necessity of developing "a culture and a politics of the family, that are driven in an organised manner by the families themselves".
He urged families "to unite yourselves to the associations that promote the identity and rights of the family, according to an anthropologic vision that is coherent with the Gospel".
He then invited "these associations to coordinate themselves and collaborate with each other so that their actions he more incisive". According to Zenit news agency the Pope called the family the "vital cell of society, the first and decisive resource for its development, and many times the last refuge for those whose needs aren't meet by the established social structures".
"For its essential social function," he added, "the family has the right to be recognised in it proper identity and to not be confused with other forms of living together."
The Holy Father said the family should also be able to count on "deserved cultural, legal, economic, social and medical protection", and that the state should offer families school choice.
The Holy Father said the Christian family "living with confidence and in filial obedience to God, with fidelity and in generously accepting children, caring for the weakest and ready to forgive, becomes a living Gospel that all can read".
In this context, the Pope gave the family the task of presenting "its testimony of life and its explicit profession of faith in the various spheres of its environment, such as the school and various associations" Likewise, he asked that families commit themselves "to the catechetical formation of their children, and the pastoral activities of their parochial community, especially those related to marriage preparation or directly related to family life".
He added: "To work for the family is to work for the dignified and luminous future of humanity and for the building of the Kingdom of God." The family, he concluded, is called "to be evangelised and evangeliser, humane and humanising".
An estimated 20,000 attended the celebration of the family Saturday, and on Sunday more than 30,000 were present in the basilica and atrium. Thousands more were watching the closing Mass on giant television screens situated on the street in front of the shrine. More than 10,000 turned out for each day of the theological-pastoral congress, exceeding all participation records of any other interna
tional family meetings.
The first day of the event had opened with a warning from the Mexican president that a breakdown in family values was leading to increased • social problems and crime.
"Many of those who die in confrontations arc young people that are detached from a nuclear family, something that results in an absolute lack of values," President Felipe Calderon said. "It's the responsibility of governments to create conditions of security economic, social, public, judicial and cultural —that make the full development of families possible."
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Camera of Mexico City echoed those sentiments in his opening remarks. "Recognising and helping this institution [the family] is one of the best services that can be offered for the common good and the true development of [people] and societies," he said.
The gathering came at a challenging time for Mexican Catholics, who have been at the forefront of trying to protect the traditional family in the face of a wave of hostile laws.