Pontiff Suggests Best Gift Children Can Get

Notes Their Need to Be Loved by a Mom and Dad

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The greatest help that can be given to children is a family where mother and father love them and each other, Benedict XVI says.



The Pope made this affirmation today as he addressed the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is having its three-day plenary assembly through Wednesday.

The Holy Father noted the theme of the assembly, "The Rights of Childhood," chosen with reference to the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"In the course of the centuries, the Church, following the example of Christ, has promoted the protection of the dignity and of the rights of minors and, in many ways, has protected them," he said. "Unfortunately, in some cases, some of its members, acting in contrast to this commitment, have violated these rights: a conduct that the Church does not cease and will not cease to deplore and condemn."

The Pontiff reflected on the consequences of Christ's teaching regarding children: that they are models "to imitate to enter the Kingdom of God."

This "has always constituted a strong appeal to nourish profound respect and concern for [children]," he said. "Jesus' harsh words against those who scandalize one of these little ones commit all to never lower the level of this respect and love. That is why the Convention on the Rights of Children was also received favorably by the Holy See, in as much as it contains positive principles on adoption, health care, education, the protection of the disabled and of little ones against violence, abandonment and sexual and labor exploitation."

Family values

Benedict XVI noted how the U.N. convention points to the family as the "natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, especially children."

"Certainly," he said, "it is precisely the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, which is the greatest help that can be given to children. They want to be loved by a mother and a father who love one another, and they need to dwell, grow and live together with both parents, because the maternal and paternal figure are complementary in the education of children and in the construction of their personality and their identity.

"Hence, it is important that everything possible is done to make them grow in a united and stable family."

To protect this model of family, the Pope said, spouses must be encouraged "never to lose sight of the profound reasons and sacredness of the conjugal pact and to reinforce it with listening to the Word of God, prayer, constant dialogue, mutual acceptance and mutual forgiveness."

"A family environment that is not serene, the division of the couple and, in particular, separation with divorce do not fail to have consequences for the children," the Bishop of Rome cautioned, "whereas supporting the family and promoting its good, its rights, its unity and stability, is the best way of protecting the rights and the genuine needs of minors."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-28291?l=english