.- On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives of Latin American family and life groups, to whom he stressed the value of human life in the face of new ethical issues, and the need for faithfulness, and openness to life within marriage.
The group was made up of presidents of the Latin American Episcopal Commissions for the Family and Life, meeting in Rome over the weekend. The meeting was promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, headed by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo.
Recalling the great interest of his predecessor, John Paul II, on the pastoral care of the family, Benedict said that "for my part, I share this same concern which to a large extent affects the future of the Church and of peoples."
"Your duty as pastors," he said, "is to present the extraordinary value of marriage in all its richness; as a natural institution, it is 'the heritage of humanity.'â
âAt the same time,â he added, âits elevation to the great dignity of Sacrament must be contemplated with gratitude and wonder, as I myself recently pointed out when I said that 'the value of Sacrament that marriage assumes in Christ means that the gift of creation was raised to the grace of redemption.â
The grace of Christ is not external to man's nature, it causes it no harm, but, in elevating it beyond its own limits, liberates and restores it'."
The Holy Father went on, saying that âthe total commitment of husband and wife, with its particular characteristics of exclusivity, faithfulness, duration in time and openness to life, lies at the basis of that community of love and life that is marriage.â
âToday,â he said, âwe must announce with renewed enthusiasm that the gospel of the family is a way to human and spiritual fulfillment, in the certainty that the Lord is always present, in His grace."
âChildren express wealth of a familyâ
The Pope then went on to address a number of life-related issues, including embryonic stem cell research and abortion, noting that new attitudes are putting the fundamental right to life into question.
âThe elimination of the embryoâ, he said, âis being facilitated, as is its use in the name of scientific progress which, in not recognizing its own limits and not accepting all the moral principles that enable the dignity of the person to be protected, becomes a threat to human beings themselves."
Benedict also noted that "in Latin America, as elsewhere, children have the right to be born and to grow up in the bosom of a family founded on marriage," and emphasized that children are an expression of the wealth of a family.
"For this reason," he said, "it is necessary to help everyone to realize the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion which, in attacking human life at its beginnings, is also an act of aggression against society itself.â
âConsequently,â he pointed out, âpoliticians and lawmakers, as servants of the social good, have the duty to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God's love."
Concluding his address, the Pope said that "there can be no doubt that pastoral work in such a delicate and complex field involving so many different disciplines and dealing with such fundamental questions, calls for the careful training of" those who administer it, as well as of the lay people who "dedicate their energies to serving families."