Great Jubilee News

VATICAN CITY, OCT 14, 2000 (VIS) - Several hundred thousand faithful joined Pope John Paul late this afternoon in St. Peter's Square for a highlight of the Jubilee of Families, a colorful, music- and dance-filled gathering marked by the witness of five families from as many continents, and a talk by the Holy Father.

Participants in the Third World Encounter of the Holy Father with Families had come for this Jubilee Year celebration from around the world. They began arriving for today's event about noon and, by the time the Pope arrived, had filled not only the square but the broad avenue leading up to it, Via della Conciliazione, and all streets adjacent to the area of St. Peter's Basilica. Earlier in the morning they had participated in Masses for language groups in basilicas throughout the city of Rome.

Pope John Paul arrived in the Popemobile, travelling down Via della Conciliazione before circling St. Peter's Square. He was welcomed by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Following this the five families, including several with large numbers of children, gave witness to their faith and family life.

Recalling that the theme of this Jubilee is "Children: Springtime of Families and Society," the Pope underlined how "children are the hope that continues to flower. ... They carry a message of life, ... and they constitute a call to solidarity."

He said that "unfortunately, as we well know, the situation of children in the world is not always what it should be," especially "in rich countries where bringing a child into the world ... (is often seen) more as a threat than as a gift." John Paul II lamented the situation of children who are exploited, whose rights are not recognized, and those "penalized by the scourge of divorce. How sad for a child to have to resign himself to dividing his love between parents in conflict!"

He underscored the situation of "believers who have divorced and remarried. ... The Church, without keeping silent about the objective moral disorder in which they find themselves and the consequences coming from it which regard the practice of sacraments, intends to show her maternal closeness."

Addressing "the tendency to use morally unacceptable practices in generating (children)," he said:
"How different and worthy of encouragement is, instead, the practice of adoption!"

He closed with a triple appeal: to leaders, governments, and organizations, "especially the United Nations," to "defend families and the respect for human life, right from the moment of conception"; to mothers to "always be sources of life, never of death!"; to mothers and fathers: "Never be afraid of life!"