Seventh World Meeting of Families to be held in Milan

.- The Italian city of Milan will be the site of the next World Meeting of Families, scheduled to take place in spring of 2012, the Holy Father announced on Sunday. 

In his address to those participating in the Sixth World Meeting of families, which took place last week in Mexico City, Pope Benedict also emphasized that it is in the familial environment where children learn their dignity and values such as peace, honesty and respect.

The Pontiff spoke to participants at the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the closing Mass of the Sixth World Meeting of Families yesterday via live television linkup and noted that the theme of the  2012 meeting will focus on, “The Family, Work and Feast.”

The Pope continued by defining the family as the “essential foundation for society and peoples, an irreplaceable benefit for children, who deserve to come into the world as the fruit of love, of the total and generous giving of the parents.”  He further added that “the family occupies a primary position in the education of the individual. It is a true school of humanity and of perennial values.”

It is from others that the gift of life is received, the Holy Father said, “which then develops and matures with the truths and values we learn through relation and communion with others. ... The family founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman expresses this inter-relational, filial and community dimension, as well as being the environment in which human beings can be born with dignity, and grow and develop fully."

"Yet such educational efforts are hindered by a misleading concept of freedom, in which individual whim and subjective impulses are exalted to the point that people are enclosed in the prison of their own ego,” the Pontiff warned.  “Human beings' true freedom comes from having been created in the image and likeness of God and hence must be exercised responsibly, always opting for true goodness.”

It is more than theories, he continued, “what is needed is the closeness and love that are characteristic of the family. It is in the home that people truly learn to live, to value life and health, freedom and peace, justice and truth, work, harmony and respect."

The Pope also underlined the vital need for all of the baptized to support the family as well as society. “Legislative and administrative measures also have to be promoted that support families in their inalienable rights, which are necessary in order for them to continue their extraordinary mission," he said.

After reiterating his closeness to, and giving assurances of his prayers for "all families who bear faithful witness in particularly difficult situations," Benedict XVI concluded by encouraging large families "who, though sometimes experiencing difficulties and misunderstandings, give an example of generosity and trust in God.”

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