In Vatican City at the beginning of the year 2011 Pope Benedict XVI exchanged traditional New Year Greetings addressing the subject of support for families, elderly people and the unemployed.
Support for Families, Elderly People and the Unemployed
The family, he described as “the primary cell of society, … founded on marriage between a man and a woman”, the Pope explained “it is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable constructive and peaceful coexistence. It is in the family that we learn solidarity between generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and acceptance of others”. For these reasons he confirmed that the “
family must, then, be supported by policies … which aim at its consolidation and development, accompanied by appropriate educational efforts”.
“The approval of forms of union which pervert the essence and goal of the family ends up penalising those people who, not without effort, seek to maintain stable emotional ties which are juridically guaranteed and publicly recognised. In this context, the Church looks with favour upon all initiatives which seek to educate young people to experience love as a giving of self, with an exalted and oblational view of sexuality. To this end the various components of society must agree on the objectives of education, in order for human love not to be reduced to an article of consumption, but to be seen and lived as a fundamental experience which gives existence meaning and a goal”.
Realizing then that many couples desire to have children “but are forced to wait”, the Holy Father emphasized the importance “of giving concrete support to maternity, and of guaranteeing working women the chance to conciliate the demands of family and work”.
“Since ‘openness to life is at the center of true development’ the large number of abortions that take place in our region cannot leave us indifferent”, the Pope warned. “The Christian community, through its many care homes, pro-life centers and similar initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who encounter difficulties in welcoming a new life. Public institutions must also offer their support so that family consultancies are in a position to help women overcome the causes that may lead them to interrupt their pregnancy”.
The Pope then went on to explain how “the ageing population raises new problems. … Although many old people can reply on the support and care of their own families, growing numbers are alone and have need of medical and healthcare assistance”. For this reason he also expressed his joy at the collaboration that exists “with the great Catholic healthcare institutions such as in the field of pediatrics, the ‘Bambino Gesu’ hospital. I hope these structures may continue to collaborate with local organizations in order to guarantee their services to everyone who needs them, at the same time renewing my call to promote a culture of respect for life until its natural end”.
On the subject of the economic crisis, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized how “parishes in the diocese of Rome are, through Caritas, making prodigious efforts” to help suffering families. “I trust that adequate measures in support of low-income families may be adopted, especially for large families that are too often penalized”, he said
The Holy Father expressed how unemployment affects above all young people who, following years of education and training, cannot find professional work. “They often feel disillusioned and are tempted to reject society itself. The persistence of such situations causes social tensions which are exploited by criminal organizations to further their illegal activities. For this reason”, he said in conclusion, “it is vital, even in this difficult time, to make every effort to promote policies that favor employment and dignified assistance, which is indispensable in order to give life to new families”.