(OCTOBER 2-6, 1997)


2 October 1997

Mr President,

1. I have the great pleasure of offering Your Excellency, as the head and highest representative of the great Brazilian nation, my most respectful greetings. I cordially thank you for your kind welcome. It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be in Brazil again, among these people whose marvellous hospitality and contagious joy are well known to me.

I also greet you, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate. First, I greet the Cardinal Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and his Auxiliary Bishops, whose Archdiocese is offering me hospitality within the context of the Successor of Peter's Second World Meeting with Families; my affectionate greetings also go to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and to the entire Latin American Episcopal Council, as well as to the Presidency of the National Bishops' Conference of Brazil who, as a sign of fraternal solidarity, have come here to collaborate and to gather the fruits of these days of fraternal sharing and, with God's help, to bring it to the countries where they carry out their ministry. I also address my affectionate greeting to the members representing the family apostolate, who have come here to meet me with this friendly group of children and young people. Truly, let me tell you ... I came here for your sake, I came to be with you and I want to be with you!

With great affection I greet the representatives of the Brazilian people, the members of the Government, the civil and military dignitaries, and all those who have gathered here. I thank you very much for having wished to receive me so kindly on my arrival, during this apostolic pilgrimage which I consider a part of my universal ministry. The dynamism of our faith increasingly awakens a sense of brotherhood and of harmonious collaboration for a peaceful society in order to motivate and consolidate forces for an orderly progress that reaches all families and social classes, in conformity with the principles of justice and Christian charity.

In this context, I would also like to extend the expression of my esteem and affection to two groups in the country. In the first place, to the indigenous peoples descended from those who lived on this land before the arrival of the explorers and colonizers. With their culture they have contributed to instilling a deep sense of family in Brazilian culture, of respect for ancestors, of intimacy and domestic affection. They deserve our full attention so that they may live their culture with dignity. I express the same sentiments to the African Brazilians, a numerous and highly significant part of the population of this land. Because of their notable presence in the country's history and cultural formation, these Brazilians of African origin deserve, have a right to and can justly demand and expect the greatest respect for the basic elements of their culture so that they may continue with these elements to enrich the culture of the nation in which they are completely integrated as fully-fledged citizens.

Brothers and sisters of Brazil, of America and of the whole world! I invoke upon you all an abundance of divine grace: may God bless you and pour out peace and prosperity upon the nations of all the continents. May Christ the Redeemer who, from the top of Corcovado, opens his arms in the form of a cross, enlighten families, Ecclesial Communities and all temporal society with the light from on high and grant everyone, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Latin America, everything good that their hearts desire. Thank you!





(OCTOBER 2-6, 1997)


3 October 1997

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate
Dear Members of the Congress,

1. I am very pleased to meet the families representing various nations who are taking part in this Pastoral Theology Congress organized in view of the Second World Meeting of Families. I greet you all, venerable Brothers in the Episcopates of Brazil, Latin America and the whole world, and I also greet the families present and all those they represent. As I ask the Almighty for abundant graces of wisdom and strength which serve as an encouragement to reassert with faith the motto: "The Family: Gift and Commitment, Hope for Humanity", I would like to reflect with you on the ways and demands of apostolic and pastoral work with the families you have before you.

Some of the points I am proposing to you, Bishops, teachers of the faith and Pastors of the flock — called to instil a renewed dynamism in the pastoral care of the family — have already been the object of attentive study during the Pastoral Theology Congress. I thank Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, for the greetings he addressed to me, and I invite the participants — delegates of the Episcopal Conferences, movements, associations and groups — who have come from all over the world, to study and enthusiastically disseminate the results of this work, undertaken in total fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church.

2. Man is the way of the Church. And the family is the primary expression of this way. As I wrote in the Letter to Families: "The divine mystery of the Incarnation of the Word thus has an intimate connection with the human family. Not only with one family, that of Nazareth, but in some way with every family, analogously to what the Second Vatican Council says about the Son of God, who in the Incarnation 'united himself in some sense with every man' (Gaudium et spes GS 22). Following Christ who 'came' into the world 'to serve' (Mt 20,28), the Church considers serving the human family to be one of her essential duties. In this sense both man and the family constitute 'the way of the Church' (Gratissimam sane, n. 2)".

The Gospel thus sheds light on human dignity and redeems all that can impoverish the vision of man and his truth. It is in Christ that man perceives the greatness of his call to be an image and child of God; it is in him that God the Father's original plan for man is revealed in its full splendour, and it is in Christ that this original plan will be fully realized. It is in Christ that this first and privileged expression of human society, which is the family, finds light and the full capacity for fulfilment, in conformity with the Father's loving plan.

"If Christ ?fully discloses man to himself', he does so beginning with the family in which he chose to be born and to grow up" (Gratissimam sane, n. 2). Christ, Lumen gentium, light of peoples, illumines human paths, especially that of the spouses' intimate communion of life and love, which is the necessary crossroads in the lives of individuals and peoples where God has always gone to meet them.

This is the sacred meaning of marrige, present in some way in all cultures despite the shadows due to original sin, and which acquires an eminent greatness and value in Revelation: "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Saviour, the Spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of marriage. He abides with them in order that by their mutual self-giving spouses will love each other with enduring fidelity, as he loved the Church and delivered himself for her" (Gaudium et spes GS 48).

3. The family is not an accessory and extrinsic structure to man, hindering his development and his inner dynamism. "For by his innermost nature man is a social being; and if he does not enter into relations with others he can neither live nor develop his gifts" (ibid., n. 12). The family, far from being an obstacle to the person's development and growth, is the privileged place for the growth of the personal and social potential inscribed in his being.

The family, founded on love and enlivened by it, is the place where every person is called to experience, appropriate and participate in that love without which man could not live, and his whole life would be deprived of meaning (cf. Redemptoris missio RMi 10 Familiaris consortio, n. 18).

Today the darkness that affects the very concept of man, directly and primarily attacks the reality and expressions which are connatural to it. Person and family are correlated in esteem and in the acknowledgement of their own dignity, as well as in the attacks against them and attempts to destroy them. God's greatness and wisdom are manifest in his works. Today it seems that God's enemies, rather than directly attacking the Author of creation, prefer to strike him through his creatures. Man is the culmination, the apex of his visible works. "Gloria enim Dei vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio Dei" (St Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 4, 20, 7).

Among the truths obscured in man's heart because of increasing secularization and the prevailing hedonism, all those concerning the family are particularly affected. Today, the basic struggle for human dignity is centred on the family and life. In the first place, the elements of equality in the spouses' dignity and their necessary diversity and sexual complementarity in the conjugal relationship are neither recognized nor respected. Even marital fidelity and the respect for life in every phase of its existence are subverted by a culture that denies the transcendence of man created in God's image and likeness. While the disintegrating forces of evil succeed in separating marriage from its mission to human life, they strike at humanity, depriving it of one of the essential guarantees of its future.

4. The Pope wanted to come to Rio de Janeiro to greet you with open arms like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which dominates this marvellous city from the top of Corcovado. And he has come to confirm you in faith and support your efforts in witnessing to Gospel values. Therefore, with regard to the central problems of the person and his vocation, the Church's pastoral activity cannot respond with a partial apostolate. It is necessary to undertake a pastoral ministry in which the central truths of the faith radiate their own evangelizing power in the various areas of life, especially in that of the family. This is a priority task based on the "certainty that future evangelization depends largely on the domestic Church" (Familiaris consortio FC 65). It is necessary to arouse and present a common front, inspired by and based on the central truths of Revelation, whose interlocutor is the person and whose agent is the family.

Therefore Pastors must be ever more aware of the fact that the family apostolate requires carefully trained pastoral workers, and consequently, efficient and adequate structures in the Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses, which will serve as dynamic centres of evangelization, dialogue and joint activities, with well-designed pastoral projects and plans.

At the same time, I would like to encourage every effort to promote adequate organizational structures, at both the national and international level, which would take responsibility for establishing constructive dialogue with the political authorities, on which, to a large extent, depend the destiny of the family and its mission to the service of life. To find appropriate ways to continue effectively presenting the basic values of God's plan to the world, means being committed to safeguarding humanity's future.

5. In addition to shedding light on and reinforcing the Church's presence as leaven, light and salt of the earth, so that human life is not destroyed, it is essential to give priority to pastoral programmes which promote the formation of fully Christian homes and increase in married couples the generosity to incarnate in their own lives the truths that the Church proposes for the human family.

The Christian concept of marriage and the family does not alter created reality but elevates the essential elements of the conjugal society: the communion of the spouses who give birth to new lives, educate them and integrate them into society, and the communion of persons, as a strong bond between family members.

6. Today in this Congress Centre — the Riocentre — I invoke the light and warmth of the Holy Spirit upon you, Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, representatives of the various Episcopal Conferences of the whole world and on the delegates to the Pastoral Theology Congress and their families. The Church turns to him, that he may pour out his sanctifying presence upon everyone and renew the Bride of Christ with missionary zeal so that all may be able to know Christ, true Son of God and true Son of man (cf. Prayer for the First Year of Preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000). Tomorrow we will celebrate the Act of Witness in Maracanã Stadium, together with all of you who have brought here the immense riches, concerns and hopes of your Churches and your peoples, which will serve as a framework for the Sunday Eucharist on the Flamengo Embankment, where we will live the mystery of the living Bread come down from heaven, the Manna of families on their pilgrimage to God!

I hope that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the fruits of our meeting may find hearts well disposed to accepting the lights of the Most High with a fresh missionary ardour, for a new evangelization of families and of all humanity. May the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, who is also the Spirit of Love, grant us all the blessing and the grace which I would like to impart to the sons and daughters of the Church and to the entire human family.

The Holy Father then spoke extemporaneously to those present:

This place, the city of Rio de Janeiro, gave me an inspiration, in constantly seeing this divine and, at the same time, human architecture. Now, the divine architecture predominates, is superior to the human, but we can also see that man is an architect, man is made in the image of God. This inspiration from architecture is important for families, because the family, as a domestic church, also has a divine and human architecure. The family needs this divine and human architecture in order to live, to endure, to find God in the home. This is my final reflection, suggested to me by architecture.

After the faithful had sung a hymn, the Holy Father said:

This hymn comes from 1980, the year of the first visit. The Pope was much younger then.

When he had imparted his Blessing the Pope added:

The Lord certainly wants to bless all the families of the world. I greet everyone present and everyone you represent. Until next time, until tomorrow. I will be back.

If God is Brazilian, the Pope is a "carioco" [an inhabitant of Rio de Janeiro] but in Porto Alegre they say that the Pope is a "gaucho", as they do in Bahia.

Goodbye, until next time, until tomorrow!





(OCTOBER 2-6, 1997)



4 October 1997

1. Dear families who have gathered here in Rio de Janeiro, who come from all peoples and all nations!

Beloved families of the whole world, who are following this meeting on radio and television! I greet you all with special affection and bless you.

I thank you very much for this warm expression of faith and joy that you have wanted to offer us today to help us reflect on the fact that the family is truly a gift and a commitment for the individual and for life, as well as the hope of humanity. Art has also been used as a way to serve the message of committed love and life, a marvellous gift of God. You have enabled us to share in what the Lord, the author of marriage and the Lord of life, has accomplished in you, and you have also borne witness to what you have achieved with his grace. Is it not true that the Lord, in the most varied situations, even amid suffering and difficulties, has always accompanied you? Yes! The Lord of the Covenant, who came to seek you and found you, has always accompanied you on your way. God our Lord, the Author of marriage, has made you one and has filled you abundantly with the riches of his love for your own happiness.

I would like to repeat here, in a short summary, what you have reflected on, after an intense catechetical preparation in conformity with the Church's Magisterium, in your Family Assemblies, Dioceses, parishes, movements and associations. It was certainly a wonderful preparation, whose fruits you have brought here today for the benefit and joy of all.

2. The family is the patrimony of humanity because it is through the family, in accordance with God's plan, that man's presence on earth must continue. In Christian families, based on the sacrament of marriage, faith gives us a marvellous glimpse of the face of Christ, the splendour of truth which fills with light and joy homes whose life is inspired by the Gospel.

Unfortunately, today a false message of happiness is spreading throughout the world, which is impossible and inconsistent, and brings with it loneliness and sorrow. Happiness is not achieved by taking the way of freedom without truth, because this is the way of irresponsible selfishness, which divides and disrupts the family and society.

It is not true that married couples, as though slaves condemned to their own weakness, cannot be faithful to their total gift of self until death! May the Lord, who calls you to live in the unity of "one flesh", a unity of body and soul, a unity of the whole of life, give you the strength for a fidelity which ennobles you and ensures that your union will not run the risk of betrayal, which robs it of dignity and happiness and brings division and sorrow to the home, the chief victims of which are the children. The best protection for the family is fidelity, which is a gift of the faithful and merciful God, in a love redeemed by him.

3. Here I would like once again to utter a cry of hope and freedom!

Families of Latin America and of the whole world: do not let yourselves be seduced by that false message which degrades peoples, attacks the best traditions and values and brings great suffering and unhappiness to your children. The cause of the family confers dignity upon the world and liberates it in the authentic truth of the human being, of the mystery of life, the gift of God, and of man and woman, images of God. You must fight for this cause to ensure your happiness and the future of the human family.

This afternoon, when families from all parts of the world are taking one another by the hand, as if to form an immense chain of love and fidelity, I address an invitation to everyone who is striving to build a new society in which the civilization of love prevails: defend your families as a precious and irreplaceable gift — a precious and irreplaceable gift. Protect them with just laws that fight poverty and the scourge of unemployment and, at the same time, allow parents to fulfil their role. How can young people start a family if they do not have the means to support it? Poverty is destroying the family, preventing access to culture and to basic education, corrupting morals and undermining the health of young people and adults. Help them! Help them! Your future is at stake!

In modern history there are many social phenomena that invite us to examine our consciences regarding the family. In many cases it must be recognized with shame that errors and mistakes have been made. How can we fail to denounce that behaviour, motivated by lack of restraint and responsibility, which tends to treat human beings as mere objects or instruments of fleeting and empty pleasure? How is it possible not to react to the lack of respect, to pornography and to every kind of exploitation, for which it is often children who pay the highest price?

Societies indifferent to children are inhuman and irresponsible. Homes which do not provide a complete education for their own children, or which abandon them, are committing a very serious injustice for which they will have to give an account before the judgement seat of God. I know that many families are sometimes victims of situations that are more than they can handle. In this case, it is necessary to appeal to the solidarity of all, because children end up suffering every form of misery: economic poverty, and above all moral poverty, which causes the phenomenon to which I referred in my Letter to Families: there are many orphans of living parents! (cf. n. 14).

As the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for the Family recalled, to serve as a symbol of an effective charity and the result of the First World Meeting with Families in Rome, a "Child City" has been set up in Rwanda, built with the help of many people and a few generous institutions, and another is being built in Salvador da Bahia, in the marshes I visited and where I addressed an appeal for hope and human advancement during my first Apostolic Visit to Brazil in July 1980. This effort brings a message and an invitation with it which I address to everyone, through you, families of the whole world: welcome your children with responsible love; protect them as a gift of God, from the moment of conception when human life is born in the mother's womb, so that the abominable crime of abortion, the shame of humanity, does not condemn the unborn to the most unjust of executions: that of the most innocent human beings! How many times have we heard from the lips of Mother Teresa of Calcutta this proclamation about the priceless value of life beginning in the mother's womb, and against any act that destroys life? We all heard it during the Testimonies at the First Meeting in Rome. Death has silenced those lips. But Mother Teresa's message on behalf of life continues to be more vibrant and convincing than ever.

4. In this stadium, which because of the play of lights looks like the stained-glass windows of an immense cathedral, today's celebration wants to call everyone to make a great and noble commitment, for which we ask almighty God for help.

For families, that united in Christ's love, pastorally organized, actively present in society, committed to the mission of humanization, liberation and the building of a world according to Christ's heart, they may truly be the hope of humanity.

For children, that they may grow up like Jesus, at the home in Nazareth. The seed of the new humanity sleeps in the womb of mothers. The future, the next millennium, tomorrow, which is in God's hands, shines in children's faces.

For young people, that they may commit themselves with great enthusiasm to preparing for their future families, teaching themselves true love which is openness to others, the ability to listen and to respond, the commitment to generous self-giving, even at the cost of personal sacrifice, and willingness to show mutual understanding and forgiveness to young people!

Yesterday, while speaking at the Riocentre, I thanked Rio de Janeiro for giving me a great inspiration. Here a divine architecture and a human architecture marvellously harmonize, giving me an inspiration, an inspiration for marvellously harmonizing families in the divine plan and in the human plan. These two architectures, divine and human, harmonize. And how do they harmonize? These two words seem right and necessary: love and responsibility. I reached this conclusion 50 years ago ... yes, 50 years ago: love and responsibility. This seems to be a true principle for harmonizing the two architectures — the divine and the human — of marriage and the family.

5. Families of the whole world, I would like to end by renewing my appeal: Be living witnesses to Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (cf. Letter to Families LF 23)! Let hearts welcome the fruit of this Pastoral Theology Congress which has just ended! May the grace and peace of God, our Father, and of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all (cf. 2Co 1,2).

Mary Queen of the Family,
Seat of Wisdom, Handmaid of the Lord,
pray for us. Amen.

Pray for us, pray for young people,
pray for families.

After a song was sung in Swahili, the Holy Father said:

Now our happiness is more complete. We are happier with Swahili.





(OCTOBER 2-6, 1997)



Residence in Sumaré

5 October 1997

Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before returning to Rome I wanted to have this farewell meeting to thank the members of the Ecclesiastical Organizing Commission and the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro, who so zealously prepared the celebration of the World Day of Families. My congratulations and gratitude also go to all the friends and benefactors who generously contributed their time and resources to the total success of this great event, and in particular to the staff at the Residence in Sumaré. God reward you!

I hope that the ideas and results of the Pastoral Theology Congress on the family will endure. I ask God to grant that by living responsibly in this "sanctuary of life" (Evangelium vitae EV 6) which is, precisely, the family, the dynamism which derives from it and the demands of totality, uniqueness, fidelity and fruitfulness it requires (cf. Humanae vitae HV 9), will be an incentive and a constant force to awaken a new dawn of holiness in the context of the Christian family.

I would also like to greet the Bishops present here representing the television network "REDE VIDA" and encourage them to continue in this apostolic work at the service of life and of man. I congratulate Archbishop Antônio Maria Mucciolo of Botucatu for this enterprising project — known as the "family channel", which is already two years old — and his closest collaborators, in the hope that this Catholic television broadcast will always be a powerful tool of evangelization and an effective witness of the Church's presence in Brazil. May God bless all the directors and staff of the Brazilian Institute for Christian Communications!

Lastly, I would like to urge everyone to continue with dedication in their effort to evangelize society and the family, and may the results so far achieved and the Apostolic Blessing, which I wholeheartedly impart encourage you.





(OCTOBER 2-6, 1997)


5 October 1997

Mr Vice-President,

In leaving this blessed land of Brazil, a hymn of thanksgiving wells up in my soul to the Most High, who has enabled me to experience intense and unforgettable hours here, with my gaze turned to Christ the Redeemer, who dominates Guanabara Bay, and in the certainty of the motherly protection of Our Lady of Penha, who protects this beloved city from her nearby shrine.

My memory will be impressed for ever with the expressions of enthusiasm and deep piety of this generous people of the Land of the Holy Cross who, together with a multitude of pilgrims from the four corners of the earth, have given a vigorous demonstration of faith in Christ and love for the Successor of Peter. I ask God to protect and bless all the world's nations with abundant graces of spiritual comfort, and safety to guide those initiatives, which everyone expects, for the common good of the great human family and of all its peoples.

My final and grateful greeting is addressed to the President of the Republic, to the Government of the nation and of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and to all the other Brazilian authorities who have showed me so many kindnesses during these days.

I am also grateful to the members of the diplomatic corps, whose diligent work enormously facilitated the participation of their nations in these days of reflection, prayer and commitment for the family.

I address a special thought of fraternal esteem, with deep gratitude, to the Cardinals, to my Brother Bishops, to the priests and deacons, to the religious and to the organizers of the Congress. They have all helped to enliven these days of the Second World Meeting with Families, filling all who have taken part with consolation and hope — gaudium et spes! — for the Christian family and for mission in society.

Be assured that I bear you all in my heart, from which I grant you a Blessing and extend it to all the peoples of Latin America and the world.




Saturday, 11 October 1997

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Friends,

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the international colloquium on chemical dependency. I thank Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers, for his words of welcome and for organizing this working meeting. Indeed, it is particularly appropriate to reflect on the serious questions arising from the phenomenon of drugs and on the urgent need for research that will help political and economic leaders, teachers and families tried by the tragedy of chemical dependency.

2. For some years the Holy See has been able to express its ideas on this subject, making pastoral, educational and social proposals. We must unfortunately note that today this phenomenon is reaching every milieu and region of the world. More and more children and adolescents are becoming consumers of toxic substances, often because they were first tried casually or defiantly. Parents and teachers often find themselves unprepared and discouraged. Doctors, as well as health and social services, encounter serious problems when it is a question of helping those who seek their aid to escape the drug scene. It must be recognized that a crack-down on those who use illegal substances is not enough to contain this scourge; in fact, a significant criminal network of trafficking and financing has been organized on an international scale. Most of the time the economic power connected with the production and commercialization of these substances escapes the law and justice.

It is therefore not surprising that a great feeling of helplessness and powerlessness is overrunning society. Some are of the opinion that the production and sale of certain drugs should be legalized. Certain authorities are prepared to do nothing, seeking merely to limit drug consumption by trying to control its effects. Consequently, in school the use of certain drugs is becoming common; this is encouraged by talk that tries to minimize the dangers, especially by distinguishing between soft and hard drugs, which leads to proposals for liberalizing the use of certain substances. This distinction disregards and downplays the risks inherent in taking any toxic product, especially behavioural dependency, which is based on the psychic structures themselves, the blurring of conscience and the loss of one's will and freedom, whatever the drug.

3. The drug phenomenon is a particularly serious evil. Many young people and adults have died or will die as a result, while others find their personal capacities diminished. Young people resort to drugs for many reasons. At critical moments in their growth, chemical dependency is to be considered symptomatic of problems in life, of difficulty in finding a place in society, of a fear of the future and of an escape into an illusory, artificial life. Youth is a time of trial and questioning, of searching for meaning in life and of making future commitments. The increased selling and consumption of drugs show that we are in a world pressed for hope, lacking vigorous human and spiritual prospects. Hence many young people think that all behaviour is the same, and do not differentiate between good and evil or acquire a sense of moral limits.

Nevertheless, I value the efforts of parents and teachers to inculcate moral and spiritual values in their children, so that they behave as responsible people. They often do this courageously, but they do not always feel supported, especially when the media spread morally unacceptable messages which serve as cultural standards in all the countries of the world, advocating for example many family models which destroy the normal image of the married couple and disparage family values, or which consider violence and sometimes drugs themselves as signs of personal liberation.

4. The fear of the future and of adult commitments which can be observed in the young makes them particularly vulnerable. Often they are not encouraged to struggle for a good, upright life; they have the tendency to withdraw into themselves. One can no longer minimize the devastating effect of unemployment to which young people fall prey in proportions unworthy of a society that wishes to respect human dignity. The forces of death then urge them to abandon themselves to drugs, to violence, sometimes even to the point of suicide. Behind what can appear as fascination with a sort of self-destruction, we must see in these young people a call for help and a deep thirst for life, which should be taken into account, so that the world will radically modify what it offers and its ways of life. Too many young people are left to themselves and do not benefit from an attentive presence, a stable home, normal schooling or a social and educational framework that arouses a moral and intellectual effort in them and helps them to steel their will and master their emotions.

5. The struggle against the scourge of chemical dependency is everyone’s business, each according to his own responsibility. I first urge husbands and wives to develop stable conjugal and family relations, based on a love that is exclusive, lasting and faithful. They will thus create the best conditions for a peaceful home life, offering their children the emotional security and self-confidence they need for their spiritual and psychological growth. It is also important that parents, who have the primary responsibility for their children, and, with them, the whole adult community, be constantly concerned about the education of youth. I therefore invite everyone who has an educational role to intensify their efforts with young people who need to form their conscience, develop their interior life and create positive relationships and constructive dialogue with their brothers and sisters; they will help them become free and responsible for their lives. Young people who have a structured personality, a sound moral and human formation and harmonious and trusting relationships with their peers and with adults will be more likely to resist the enticements of those who spread drugs.

6. I invite the civil authorities, the economic decision-makers and all who have social responsibility to continue and intensify their efforts to improve anti-drug abuse legislation at every level and to oppose all forms of drug culture and trafficking, sources of wealth scandalously acquired by exploiting the frailty of defenceless persons. I encourage the public authorities, parents, teachers, health-care professionals and Christian communities to be jointly and increasingly involved in the work of prevention among young people and adults. Wise and accurate medical information must be given especially to young people, stressing the harmful effects of drugs on the physical, intellectual, psychological, social and moral levels. I am aware of the tireless devotion and patience of those who care for and attend to persons ensnared in drugs, and their families. I invite the parents whose child has a chemical dependency never to despair, to stay in communication with him, to show him their affection and to encourage his contacts with structures that can care for him. A family’s warm attention is a great support for the interior struggle and for the progress of detoxification.

7. I salute the tireless and patient pastoral commitment of priests, religious and lay persons in the world of drugs; they support parents and are keen to welcome and listen to young people, to understand their radical questions in order to help them escape the spiral of drugs and become free and happy adults. The Church’s mission is to transmit the word of the Gospel that opens us to God's life and enables us to discover Christ, the Word of Life who offers a path of human and spiritual growth. Following the example of her Lord and in solidarity with her brothers and sisters in humanity, the Church comes to the aid of the lowliest and the weakest, caring for those who are wounded, fortifying those who are sick, seeking the personal growth of each one.

At the end of our meeting, I salute the mission undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers in carefully following the human and spiritual problems posed by drug dependency and by all health-care and social issues, in order to offer solutions for situations that are gravely harmful to men and women, our brothers and sisters. Likewise, in conjunction with the Pastors of the particular Churches, with the faithful and the competent services involved in supporting those with a chemical dependency and their families, the Council is called to offer its support to local initiatives.

I entrust you and your activity to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary; I also beseech her for the young people who are in the grip of drugs, and for their loved ones. May she surround them with her motherly concern! May she guide the world’s young people to an ever more harmonious life! May the Holy Spirit go with you and give you the necessary courage for your work on behalf of youth! I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all, to your collaborators and to the members of your families.