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May the family be a sanctuary of life and love

On Sunday, 27 December 1982, the Holy Father delivered the following address to the tens of thousands of persons gathered in St Peter's Square for the usual meeting to recite the Angelus.

1. Today our thoughts and our hearts go to the Holy Family of Nazareth. By means of the mystery of The Birth of the Lord, the Son of God became a son of man, coming to be a member of the human family. God, who is Love, entered a Family, wishing thereby to make it a special place of love and a real "domestic Church".

We know only some events of the history of the Family of Nazareth; each of them, however, is deeply eloquent. The passage in the Gospel of St Luke, which we read today, recalls the Presentation of the Child in the Temple of Jerusalem on the fortieth day after his birth in Bethlehem: "They brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord" (Lk 2:22). In this way they carried out the duty laid down by the law of the Old Covenant, which established: "Every first-born male will be consecrated to the Lord" (cf. Ex 13:2).

However, none of the sons of men, who came into the world at any time, into any human family, was consecrated to God as Jesus already was in his conception and in his birth. Therefore he reveals more fully to mankind the truth that the family is the community in which man is born to live for God and for men. He is born to live according to this destiny, which stems from eternal Love.

2. In the course of the Synod of Bishops in 1980, which was dedicated to the tasks of the Christian family, the Church recited the following prayer, which I myself wished to compose, and which I now invite you to follow, as I repeat it before you:

God from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth comes, Father, you who are Love and Life, make every human family on earth become, by means of your Son, Jesus Christ, "born of Woman", and by means of the Holy Spirit, a well-spring of divine charity, a real shrine of life and love for the generations that always renew themselves.

Make your grace guide the thoughts and works of married couples towards the good of their families, and of all the families in the world.

Make the young generations find in the family a strong support for their humanity and their growth in truth and love.

Make love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of marriage, prove stronger than any weakness and any crisis, through which our families, sometimes, pass.

Finally, we ask you through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, to make the Church, in the midst of all the nations on earth capable of carrying out her mission fruitfully in the family and by means of the family.

Through Christ our Lord, who is the way, the truth and the life for ever and ever. Amen.

3. In conformity with the desire of the Bishops who took part in it, the work of the Synod, which was held in October 1980, found expression in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Cosortio. Together with this Exhortation, all the "Propositiones" of the Synod have been transmitted to the Council for the Family, set up recently, so that they may constitute as a whole a foundation for the work by which the Church wishes to show her love for the family.

"Loving the family means being able to appreciate its values spill capabilities, fostering them always. Loving the family means identifying the dangers and the evils that menace it, in order to overcome them. Loving the family means endeavouring to create for it an environment favourable to its development. The modern Christian family is often tempted to be discouraged and is distressed at the growth of its difficulties; it is an outstanding form of love to give it back its reasons for confidence in itself, in the riches that it possesses by nature and grace, and in the mission that God has entrusted to it. "Yet indeed, the families of today must be called back to their original position. They must follow Christ". (Apost. Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 86).

Let us pray in this spirit today, embracing in mind and heart all families throughout the world.

Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

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