Pope's Letter to Family Meeting of Latin American Bishops

"Encourage Parents in Their ... Obligation to Educate the New Generations"

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BOGOTA, Colombia, MARCH 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to participants in a meeting of bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean responsible for the pastoral care of families and life. The five-day meeting, which ends Friday in Bogota, is sponsored by the Latin American bishops' council (CELAM) and the Pontifical Council for the Family.

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To the Venerable Brother

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family

I am pleased to greet cordially Your Eminence as well as the other cardinals, bishops and priests taking part in the meeting of persons in charge of the episcopal commissions for family and life of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is taking place in Bogota.

As the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean has reiterated, the family is the most beloved value of the peoples of this noble region. For this reason, the pastoral care of families has a primary place in the evangelizing action of each of the different particular Churches, promoting the culture of life and working so that the rights of families are recognized and respected.

We witness with sorrow, however, how homes suffer increasingly adverse situations caused by rapid cultural changes, social instability, migratory flows, poverty, programs of education that trivialize sexuality and false ideologies. We cannot remain indifferent in face of these challenges. In the Gospel we find light to respond to them without being discouraged. With his grace, Christ stimulates us to work diligently and enthusiastically to support each of the members of families in the discovery of the plan of love that God has for the human person. Hence, no effort will be useless in working so that every family, founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, will carry out its mission to be a living cell of society, seedbed of virtues, school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, instrument of concord, and privileged realm in which human life will be received and protected, in a joyful and responsible way, from its beginning to its natural end. It is also worthwhile to continue to encourage parents in their right and fundamental obligation to educate the new generations in the faith and in the values that dignify human existence.

I do not doubt that the continental mission promoted in Aparecida, which is awakening so many hopes everywhere, will serve to revive in the beloved Latin American and Caribbean countries the matrimonial and family ministry. The Church counts on Christian homes, calling them to be a real subject of evangelization and apostolate and inviting them to become conscious of their valuable mission in the world.

Hence, I encourage all the participants in this significant reunion to develop in their reflections the great pastoral lines marked out by the episcopates gathered in Aparecida, thus fostering the family's ability to live a profound encounter with Christ through listening to his word, prayer, the sacramental life and the exercise of charity. In this way they will be helped to put into practice a solid spirituality which fosters in all its members a determined aspiration to sanctity, without fear of showing the beauty of the high ideals and ethical and moral demands of life in Christ. To promote this, it is necessary to enhance the formation of all those who, in one way or another, are dedicated to the evangelization of families. Likewise, it is important to trace paths of collaboration with all men and women of good will to continue to intensely protect human life, marriage and the family in the whole region.

I conclude expressing my affection and solidarity to all the families of Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular those who find themselves in situations of difficulty, while commending at the same time to the powerful protection of the most Holy Virgin Mary the fruits of this laudable initiative, I impart from my heart the apostolic blessing, which I am pleased to extend to all those who are involved in the evangelization and promotion of the good of families.

Vatican, March 28, 2011

BENEDICT PP. XVI

[Translation by ZENIT]