Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended the traditional family during his visit to Spain at the weekend. The Holy Father was met at the airport on Saturday by King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero - with whom he had a private meeting. In the evening the Pope attended the vigil of the 5th World Meeting of Families. In his address he said: "To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and woman 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. Human love needs to be purified and to mature if it is to be fully human and the principle of a true and lasting joy." "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." During the meeting the Pope praised the role of grandparents. "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," he said. Shortly before, actor Lino Banfi, had explained that when he is told that he is the "grandfather of Italy," he replies saying "then the Pope is the grandfather of the world." The Pontiff said that he wished to dedicate a special passage of his address to grandparents "so important in families" and added with a smile, "and I am the grandfather of the world, we have heard." More than one million people in including the King and Queen of Spain, attended the Papal Mass in Valencia yesterday. Married couples celebrating their golden anniversary sat behind the altar, decorated with more than 6,000 white and yellow flowers. The choir was made up of more than 200 Valencian fathers and mothers, accompanied by Valencia's orchestra. During the homily, the Holy Father's words were interrupted by applause. "The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life. It is the setting where men and women are enabled to be born with dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner," Benedict XVI said. The prayers of the faithful included a prayer for the victims of last Monday's subway accident in Valencia. During Mass, the Pontiff used a chalice which is venerated in Valencia's Cathedral as the same cup Jesus used in the Last Supper. The Pope ended the celebration with the recitation of the Angelus, in which he announced that the 6th World Meeting of Families will be held in 2009 in Mexico City. In bidding Valencia farewell at the airport, Benedict XVI thanked all the participants for their collaboration in his third international apostolic trip. "I thank you for your presence here. You have come from all the continents of the world at considerable sacrifice... You have a special place in my heart. My heartfelt prayer is that Almighty God will bless you today and always." Source: VIS
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