As he does at the beginning of every year, the Pope received members of the police force in charge of public security for Vatican City today. Thanking them for their vigilance and dedication, Benedict XVI also reminded the security force that they should see in those they protect “the face of a brother or a sister whom God has put in your path”.
The Holy Father exchanged best wishes for 2008 with the officers and then gave them inspiration for continuing in their service, drawing on this year’s theme for World Peace Day, "The Human Family, a Community of Peace".
Quoting from the text of the message, the Pope indicated that "the natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes 'the primary place of humanization for the person and society', ... the prototype of every social order".
"In your daily role of vigilance", he told his listeners, "you meet no small number of families. They arrive here from all over the world to pay homage to the Apostles, and in particular to St. Peter upon whose faith Christ founded the Church. They come to renew together their profession of this faith, ... to participate in audiences and celebrations presided by the Apostle Peter's Successor".
The Holy Father thanked the officers of the General Inspectorate for Public Security for their "constant interest in people and in the motives that animate them", as well as for their "willingness, patience and spirit of sacrifice".
He applied the vision of the family to their work, telling them to seek in each pilgrim "the face of a brother or a sister whom God has put in your path, a friend yet unknown, ... in the knowledge that we are all part of the one great human family".
The Pope cautioned that seeing people this way is only possible if the each worker is committed to recognizing God as “the ultimate source of our own life and the lives of others.”
Benedict explained that "Without this transcendent foundation, which is God, society risks becoming a mere aggregation of neighbors, and it ceases to be a community of brothers and sisters called to form one great family".
"May the Lord help you to carry out your profession", Benedict XVI concluded, "remaining ever faithful to the ideals which must constantly inspire it. Society needs people who do their duty and are aware that all work, all service conscientiously undertaken, contributes to building a more just and a truly free society".