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VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2010 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and the forty-third World Day of Peace, which has as its theme this year: "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation".
  At the beginning of his homily the Pope explained that "the entire biblical narrative can be read as a progressive discovery of the face of God, up until His complete revelation in Jesus Christ. ... God took on a human face, allowing Himself to be seen and recognised in the Son of the Virgin Mary who, for this reason, we venerate with the exalted title of 'Mother of God'".
  After them highlighting how "meditation on the mystery of the face of God and of man is a privileged path that leads to peace", the Holy Father pointed out that peace actually "begins by looking at the face of others with respect and recognising therein a person, whatever the colour of their skin, nationality, language or religion".
  "Only if we have God in our hearts", Pope Benedict continued, "are we able to see in the face of the other a brother in humanity, not a means but an end, not a rival or an enemy but another self, another facet of the infinite mystery of human beings. Our perception of the world and, in particular, of our fellow man, essentially depends on the presence of the Spirit of God within us".
  "In order, then, to recognise and respect one another as we truly are - that is, as brothers - we need to refer to the face of a common Father Who loves us all, despite our limitations and our errors.
  "From earliest childhood it is important we be educated to respect others, even when different from ourselves", the Pope added. And in this context he explained that "the face of children are like a reflection of God's vision of the world. Why, then, dampen their smiles?" he asked. "Why poison their hearts? Unfortunately the icon of the tender Mother of God has its tragic opposite in the disturbing images of so many children and their mothers who are at the mercy of wars and violence. ... Faces hollowed out by hunger and sickness, faces disfigured by suffering and desperation".
  And he went on: "The faces of these little innocents are a silent appeal to our sense of responsibility. In the face of their defencelessness, all the false justifications for war and violence collapse. We must simply turn to projects of peace, lay down arms of all kinds and together commit ourselves to building a world more worthy of mankind".
  Turing then to comment on the theme of his Message for the forty-third World Day of Peace - "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation" - the Pope explained that "man is capable of respecting other creatures in the degree to which he carries in his own spirit a complete sense of the meaning of life, otherwise he will be led to despise himself and his surroundings and to have no respect for the environment in which he lives: the creation".
  "There is, in fact, a close correlation between respect for man and the protection of creation", said the Holy Father. "If man is degraded, the environment in which he lives is degraded; if culture tends towards nihilism (if not theoretical, then practical) nature cannot but pay the consequences".
  "Thus I renew my appeal to invest in education", he concluded. "An education that has as its objective, apart from the necessary transmission of technical-scientific knowledge, a broader and deeper 'ecological responsibility' based on respect for man and his fundamental rights and duties. Only in this way can commitment to the environment truly become education for peace and construction of peace".
HML/PEACE CREATION/...  VIS 100104 (660)
VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, shortly after celebrating Mass in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
  Recalling the theme of his Message for the forty-third World Day of Peace - "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation" - the Pope pointed out that "we are all responsible for the protection and care of creation. Hence education is vital in this field too: in order to respect nature we 'must increasingly begin with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and States'.
  "And if we must care for the creatures that surround us", he added, "how much more consideration must we have for people, for our brothers and sisters! how much respect for human life!"
  On this first day of the year Benedict XVI also launched "an appeal to the consciences of members of armed groups of whatever kind. To all of you I say: stop, reflect and abandon the way of violence. In the immediate, this step may seem impossible but, if you have the courage to take it, God will help you and you will feel the joy of peace return to your hearts, a joy you may perhaps have long forgotten. I entrust this appeal to the intercession of Mary Mother of God".
  After recalling how Jesus' name means "God saves", the Holy Father affirmed that "Jesus is the face of God, He is a blessing for all individuals and all peoples, He is the peace of the world. Thank you, Most Holy Mother, for having given birth to the Saviour, the Prince of peace".
ANG/CREATION PEACE/...  VIS 100104 (300)


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