A Word of Welcome to His Holiness Pope John Paul II(by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family)

Holy Father,

The families answering the call to be here with you come from every corner of the world. Like tributaries of a river that flood the main stream, as the ones of Amazon of Latin America and of the immense Brazil, these families unite with the large number of families from Rio de Janeiro, who have opened their hearts and their homes to welcome every one with fraternal love.

This second world gathering, as the one in Rome, where candlelight inundated St. Peter’s Square has emerged from the bottom of your heart. During this meeting, the announcement of the Gospel of the family and of live two inseparable poles of you teaching, occupy a privileged place. Always, and particularly during your fruitful Pontificate, you have proclaimed this teaching, as if raising a banner of hope, because on this cause depends the future of humanity.

Here the Church is reunited in reunited in expressive synthesis of its vitality: here are the families that constitute the Church, over which, Holy Father you preside with great love. At the same time, here is the Church that builds the families and entwines with them their own future and that of humanity, of which they are the core.

You have devoted yourself with so much love to this pastoral mission, sparing no energy, opening new ways and new horizons, according to the heart and plan of God. Millions of families in the world have prepared themselves for this meeting, by reflecting on your rich and profound teaching.

Thank you for your efforts in proclaiming the love, that the Lord spreads abundantly on the community that forms itself and grows in His name. Thank you, Holy Father, for your pastoral promptness in communicating these truths that come from God. Thank you for your strife and your work.

The witness during this celebration, which focus on the "mission of the Christian family" have been subdivided into the four roles or tasks indicated by the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, the Magna Carta of the Ministry of the family set up by you, and a fundamental guide in the Pastoral work that has as its protagonist the family, Domestic Church and Sanctuary of life.

These four tasks are first, the formation of a community of people; second, the service to life; third, the participation in the development of society and fourth, the participation in the life and mission of the Church.

As indicated by Vatican Council II, you have expounded extensively the reasons for life and optimism (see G.S.: n 31) the importance of the family attracts the attention of the world. Here are the Movements who, full of enthusiasm, flourish in their commitment for the cause of the family and life.

In a well-timed intervention, in a spirit of trustful dialogue, before the start of the Cairo Conference, you pointed out to the Heads of State your concern regarding the way of life, the wrong model of youth being shaped. Your decisive defense of the human dignity has been recognized and admired.

The focus of this celebration is the testimony you give, the testimony that you are, in Christ, in your paternal nearness to the community of life and love that grows on the model of the Trinity.

As a symbolic remembrance of the meaning in Rome, the Pontifical Council for the family, in conformity with your wish, is very happy to be on the point of consigning the first Children’s Town in Rwanda, built in that beautiful place where you have celebrated the Eucharist (at Mbare, diocese of Kabgay), on the land given by the Episcopal Conference. This project has been made possible thanks to the solidarity of many, even of persons with very little economic possibilities, and to your generous personal contribution. Your love for the children especially for the poor ones is a stimulus and an example. This institution, which bears your name, will be of great service to hundreds of children and young people in this nation upset by violence. We are on the point of stating a new project in the Archdiocese of Salvador, Bahia.

Your Holiness, in this Stadium, converted into an immense Temple, just as the family should be, we would like to confirm our conviction derived from your teaching, that nothing and no one can substitute the family, the first cell of society in its mission to form persons and to be the source of authentic personalization and humanization. The family, source of life, consents that the flame of hope should never be extinguished.

Art will be at the service of the message of love that married couples, parents and children carry out. From Nazareth, where the son of God was made flesh, comes the light that will be brought in, to give a start to this meeting. The sculpture "Sanctuary of Life" placed on this stage, translates the language of Human Knowledge in the light of Faith. There emerges the life of the conceived, the newly born child, whose right to live you have defended so strongly in the historical Encyclical Evangelium vitae. In the mother’s womb, full of light, grows the tree of life that penetrates its roots in the hands of the Crucifix, in the Potter of Creation. It is a hymn to life.

Holy Father, we listen to you with profound love and with the utmost gratitude. In your sacred service to the Lord, you knock at the doors of the families through a personal dialogue, they open their hearts entirely to you.

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