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On the Human Person

"The Pillar of the Whole Great Edifice of Peace"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 2, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday before reciting the midday Angelus with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Beforehand, the Pope presided at a Mass on the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. It was also World Day of Peace.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the beginning of the new year I am happy to address to all of you, present in St. Peter's Square, and to all those who are with us through radio and television, the most cordial wishes of peace and goodness! May the light of Christ, the sun that appeared on humanity's horizon, illuminate your way and accompany you throughout the whole of 2007!

With happy intuition, my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, wished the year to open under the protection of Mary Most Holy, venerated as Mother of God. The Christian community, which these days has remained in prayerful adoration before the manger, contemplates today with special love the Virgin Mother.

Be at one with her while she contemplates the newborn Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger. Like Mary, the Church also remains in silence, to receive and keep the interior resonances of the word made flesh and not waste the divine-human warmth that radiates in his presence. He is God's blessing! The Church, like the Virgin, does but show Jesus, the Savior, to all and reflects on each one the light of his face, splendor of goodness and truth.

Today we contemplate Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, in his attribute of true "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:5). He "is our peace," who came to pull down the "wall of separation" that divides men and nations, that is, "enmity" (Ephesians 2:14).

Because of this Paul VI, of venerated memory, also wanted Jan. 1 to be the World Day of Peace: so that every new year begins in the light of Christ, the great pacifier of humanity. I renew today my desire for peace to the rulers and leaders of nations and of international organizations and to all men and women of good will.

I do so particularly with the special message I prepared -- with my collaborators of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace -- whose theme this year is: "The Human Person, Heart of Peace." The latter touches an essential point, the value of the human person, who is the pillar of the whole great edifice of peace. At present there is much talk about human rights, but it is often forgotten that they need a stable -- not relative or debatable -- foundation. And this can only be the person's dignity. Respect for this dignity begins with the recognition and protection of the person's right to freely live and profess his religion.

We address our prayer with confidence to the Holy Mother of God, so that sacred respect for every human person and rejection of war and violence will be developed in consciences. Help us, Mary, you who gave Jesus to the world, to receive from him the gift of peace and to be sincere and courageous builders of peace.

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present for this Angelus on the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Today we recall the wonderful mystery that through blessed Mary, virgin and mother, God has become man! Filled with awe, knowing that the world has been given a Savior, we give thanks to God.

Today is also the World Day of Peace. May Mary show us, in her son, the way of peace, and enlighten our vision so that we may recognize Christ's face in the face of every human person. Upon all of you, your families and communities I invoke God's abundant blessings of comfort and joy.

Happy New Year!

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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