Last Saturday at 5.15 p.m., the Pope left the archbishop's residence and went to the palace of the "Generalitat de Valencia," headquarters of the presidency of the Spanish region of Valencia, where he paid a courtesy visit to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.
He then returned to the archbishop's palace where he met with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain.
At 8.30 p.m., he again left the archbishop's palace and travelled by popemobile to Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences, a modern building complex in the city center. There he presided at a festive meeting of families, attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
The ceremony began with a parade of participants bearing the flags of their native countries. Thereafter Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, addressed some words to those present.
Following testimonies from families from various countries, the Pope pronounced his address.
He began by recalling that the family "is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To this end, it receives abundant help from God in the Sacrament of Matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness.
"Would that our children," he added, "might experience more harmony and affection between their parents rather than disagreements and discord, since the love between father and mother is a source of great security for children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love."
Benedict XVI then highlighted the fact that "the family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all."
Referring to the problems facing families when isolated from relatives and friends, the Pope indicated that the Church "has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty. Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the various ecclesial associations."
Going on to mention the question of the transmission of faith in the family, the theme of this Fifth World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict recalled that it "is a responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect or completely delegate to others. ... The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is strengthened through prayer and Christian practice."
"This meeting provides a new impetus for proclaiming the Gospel of the family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth. This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty. To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love. Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger and more truly free."
The Pope invited politicians and legislators "to reflect on the evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals and the family, the neuralgic center of society." In this context, he recalled how "the purpose of laws is the integral good of man, in response to his needs and aspirations. This good is a significant help for society, of which it cannot be deprived, and a safeguard and a purification for peoples. The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity. The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children.
"Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected," he added. "Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats."
Benedict XVI also highlighted the importance of grandparents: "They can be - and so often are - the guarantors of the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death."
After the meeting, the Pope returned to the archbishop's palace where he spent the night.