Pope Affirms Family as Agent of Peace

Wishes All a Prosperous New Year

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The family is the principal agent of peace, and whoever disrupts the family, disrupts peace, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today before reciting the midday Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square on the World Day of Peace. "We have begun a new year," he said, "and I wish that it will be for all peaceful and prosperous."

The Holy Father spoke first of solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, which the Church celebrates Jan. 1: "In Bethlehem, in the fullness of time, Jesus was born of Mary: The Son of God was made man for our salvation, and the Virgin truly became Mother of God. This immense gift that Mary received was not reserved only for her, but for us all."

"It is in the name of Mary, Mother of God and of mankind," continued the Holy Father, "that for the past 40 years, on the first day of the year, the Church has celebrated the World Day for Peace."

Benedict reflected on this year's theme for the world day: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace."

He said: "The same love that builds and maintains unity in the family, the vital building block of society, favors these relationships of solidarity and of collaboration among the peoples of the earth, who are members of the single human family."

The Pope affirmed that "there is a close relationship, therefore, among family, society and peace." Quoting his message for the World Day of Peace, he added, "Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family, undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace."

In a prayer to Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and all mankind, the Pontiff asked the Virgin to help the Church in its service for peace, and aid all nations "to begin on a path of authentic solidarity and of stable peace."