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CURRENT ISSUE:  January 7, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Dominican nun finds calling as environmentalist
How well do Catholics in the pews sing?
Threats to traditional family
threaten peace, pope says in message

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Anything that threatens the traditional family threatens peace, because the family “is the first and indispensable teacher of peace,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his annual message for the Jan. 1 celebration of the World Day of Peace.

The pope also said the responsibilities learned and the joys and struggles shared within individual families must be mirrored on a global level because everyone is part of one human family.

The pope chose “The Human Family, A Community of Peace” as the theme for 2008, the 40th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s celebration of World Peace Day.

“The first form of communion between persons is that born of the love of a man and a woman who decide to enter a stable union in order to build together a new family,” the pope wrote.

“But the peoples of the earth, too, are called to build relationships of solidarity and cooperation among themselves, as befits members of the one human family,” he said.

War and violence, exploitation of the weak, rampant poverty and underdevelopment, destruction of the environment and the arms race are all threatening signs that individuals and nations have not learned to live together in harmony and mutual responsibility, the pope said.

“Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future,” he said.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Pope Benedict’s concerns about the arms race, both nuclear and conventional, reflect the fact that global military spending reached an all-time high in 2006 and that, in many cases, countries have tried to justify their increased military spending by claiming it was necessary in order to combat terrorism.

“After the terrorist attacks against the United States of Sept. 11, 2001, the international community adopted severe measures against the risk of terrorism,” Cardinal Martino said. “At the same time, nations — especially the nuclear powers — began a renewal of their military apparatus and their weapons.”

“On this basis,” he said, “it seems correct to affirm that the current policy of state security threatens the very peace and security of the people it intends to defend.”

In his message, Pope Benedict wrote, “In difficult times such as these, it is necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms.”

In explaining the theme he chose for the message, the pope said the fact that a strong, healthy family is the basis of a healthy society is not simply a slogan.

“In a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters; the role of authority expressed by parents; loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age; mutual help in the necessities of life; readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them,” Pope Benedict said.

The pope said that anyone who weakens the institution of the family weakens “what is in effect the primary agency of peace” in society.

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