Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that good Catholic families are necessary to bring about a re-Christianization of countries throughout the world.
“The New Evangelization depends largely on the domestic Church,” the Pope said Dec. 1 at the Vatican.
“In our time, as in times past, the eclipse of God, the spread of ideologies contrary to the family and the degradation of sexual ethics are intertwined,” he added.
“And just as the eclipse of God and the crisis of the family are linked, so the New Evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family.”
Pope Benedict made his remarks Thursday at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The council is currently preparing for the 7th annual World Meeting of Families which will be held in Milan, Italy, from May 30 to June 3, 2012.
“The family founded on the Sacrament of Matrimony is a particular realization of the Church, saved and saving, evangelized and evangelizing community,” the Pope said.
He explained that just like the Church, the Catholic family is also called to “welcome, radiate and show the world the love and the presence of Christ.”
This “reception and transmission of divine love” in a family is realized in such things as “the mutual commitment of spouses, generous and responsible procreation, in the care and education of children,” he explained, as well as love for the poor, the local parish and the good of civil society in general.
He described a Catholic family that “succeeds in living love as communion,” as reflecting “the splendor of Christ in the world and the beauty of the divine Trinity.”
Pope Benedict drew much of his address from Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio, and celebrated the document's 30th anniversary this month.
“In the wake of my predecessors, I too have repeatedly urged Christians spouses to evangelize both with the witness of life and with involvement in the pastoral activities,” he said.
The Pope noted that Priests and families should work together since both marriage and holy orders are two sacraments “at the service of communion.” Because of this, priests should not see families “merely as the object of pastoral action,” but as “the closest ally of the priestly ministry.”
He then urged bishops, priests and families to work toward educating young people, preparing engaged couples, helping form those already married and ensuring pastoral care for all families.
This care includes helping them to live life-long commitment and to strike the right balance between work and rest, he said.
Pope Benedict concluded by congratulating the Pontifical Council for the Family on their work, including their suggestion of a “family week” for Catholics parishes, associations and movements. He then wished them well in their preparations for next year’s World Meeting of Families.