Tertio Millennio Adveniente
Toward the Third Millennium
Page 10

27. It would be difficult not to recall that the Marian Year took place only shortly before the events of 1989. Those events remain surprising for their vastness and especially for the speed with which they occurred. The Eighties were years marked by a growing danger from the "Cold War". 1989 ushered in a peaceful resolution which took the form, as it were, of an "organic" development. In the light of this fact, we are led to recognize a truly prophetic significance in the Encyclical Rerum Novarum: everything that Pope Leo XIII wrote there about Communism was borne out by these events, as I emphasized in the Encyclical Centesimus Annus.(12) In the unfolding of those events one could already discern the invisible hand of Providence at work with maternal care: "Can a woman forget her infant ...?" (Is 49:15).

After 1989 however there arose new dangers and threats. In the countries of the former Eastern bloc, after the fall of Communism, there appeared the serious threat of exaggerated nationalism, as is evident from events in the Balkans and other neighbouring areas. This obliges the European nations to make a serious examination of conscience, and to acknowledge faults and errors, both economic and political, resulting from imperialist policies carried out in the previous and present centuries vis-ā-vis nations whose rights have been systematically violated.

28. In the wake of the Marian Year, we are now observing the Year of the Family, a celebration which is closely connected with the mystery of the Incarnation and with the very history of humanity. Thus there is good cause to hope that the Year of the Family, inaugurated at Nazareth, will become, like the Marian Year, another significant stage in preparation for the Great Jubilee.

With this in view, I wrote a Letter to Families, the purpose of which was to restate the substance of the Church's teaching on the family, and to bring this teaching, so to speak, into every home. At the Second Vatican Council, the Church recognized her duty to promote the dignity of marriage and the family.(13) The Year of the Family is meant to help make the Council's teaching in this regard a reality. Each family, in some way, should be involved in the preparation for the Great Jubilee. Was it not through a family, the family of Nazareth, that the Son of God chose to enter into human history?


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