Mass in Nazareth: The Family Is Essential for Building a Civilization of Love

VATICAN CITY, 14 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 8.30 a.m. today the Pope travelled by helicopter to Nazareth, town of the Annunciation and of the Holy Family, which is located some 110 kilometres from Jerusalem. Having landed, the Holy Father continued his journey by car to the Mount of the Precipice where he celebrated Mass to mark the closure of Year of the Family, an initiative organised by the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

Benedict XVI was welcomed by the mayors of Nazareth and of Nazareth Illit, by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin patriarchal vicar for Israel, and by Archbishop Paul Nabil El-Sayah of Haifa and the Holy Land of the Maronites. The Holy Father saluted the faithful from his popemobile as he toured the site, a natural amphitheatre located near a wood dedicated to Pope John XXIII. Having then received greetings from Archbishop Elias Chacour, Greek Melkite ordinary for Galilee, he presided at Mass. Among those attending the ceremony was Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel.

In his homily, the Holy Father affirmed that, following the example of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, "we come to appreciate even more fully the sacredness of the family, which in God's plan is based on the lifelong fidelity of a man and a woman consecrated by the marriage covenant and accepting of God's gift of new life.

"How much the men and women of our time need to re-appropriate this fundamental truth, which stands at the foundation of society, and how important is the witness of married couples for the formation of sound consciences and the building of a civilisation of love", he added.

"In the family each person, whether the smallest child or the oldest relative, is valued for himself or herself, and not seen simply as a means to some other end. Here we begin to glimpse something of the essential role of the family as the first building block of a well-ordered and welcoming society. We also come to appreciate, within the wider community, the duty of the State to support families in their mission of education, to protect the institution of the family and its inherent rights, and to ensure that all families can live and flourish in conditions of dignity".  ::MORE

Benedict XVI Is Star of Hope in Bethlehem, Vatican Aide Considers Message for Palestinians

BETHLEHEM, West Bank, MAY 13, 2009 ( Benedict XVI's visit today to Bethlehem had one principal objective: to give hope to this sorely tried population, says the delegate administrator of the Holy See's pilgrimage agency.

Father Caesar Atuire, of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican institution whose mission is to evangelize through pastoral tourism and the ministry of pilgrimage, spoke with ZENIT about the Pope's stop at Bethlehem on the fifth day of his Holy Land pilgrimage.

The city where Jesus was born "has lived this day as if it were Christmas," he said. And in fact, during the Mass the Holy Father celebrated in Manger Square, one could hear carols being sung.

"Seeing the people here, hearing their songs, we realize that today the Pope has brought to this land a message of peace, a message of joy, to encourage this population that lives with so many conflicts," Father Atuire said. "The Pope has recalled what the Gospel of Luke says, that is, that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction.  ::MORE


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