.- This morning at the Vatican, the Holy Father received the mayor of Rome and the presidents of the region of Lazio and the province of Rome, together with 250 employees of the city, region and province, for a traditional exchange of New Year greetings.
The Pope began his talk by expressing his "great pleasure for the approval of the Statute of the region of Lazio," noting that it "underlines the role that Rome has as the center of Catholicism, and explicitly recognizes the primacy of the person and the fundamental value of life.”
It also recognizes the rights of the family as a natural society founded on marriage and it proposes to support it in fulfilling its social function."
He added that the Statute "also provides for the region to guarantee the right to study and the freedom of educational choices."
Pope John Paul likewise expressed satisfaction at the protocol signed between the vicariate, the city and the region of Rome, which intends to realize new parish complexes on Rome's periphery.
The Pope then turned his attention to "problems worthy of particular attention, above all that of housing, especially for young families with modest economic resources."
He expressed the hope that joint efforts by institutions would be made to remedy the housing problem, "given the social implications that a lack of adequate housing brings with it."
He noted that "the sad phenomena of drug addiction and, more broadly, the frustration of youth, call for ... an ever vigilant commitment."
"What can we say of city traffic," he asked, "which becomes more congested and difficult every year? It is the cause of notable difficulties in the daily lives of many persons and families."
He said he hoped "the question of traffic flow and city transport can be handled in an organic way."
In closing, the Pope extended an apostolic blessing to the citizens of Rome, the province and the region.