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Christmas Message from Cardinal Keith O'Brien

 "At this time of year we focus on that familiar scene of the stable in Bethlehem, on the hope and promise that new life offers to the world and the centrality of the human family in God,s plan of salvation. We are all members of a family. Our immediate family, the family of society, and the international community or family of nations.

This year began with concerns for the international family as violence erupted in Kenya. The world was shocked by news of attacks on women and children who had huddled together seeking refuge in a church. As we yearn for peace at Christmas, we remember those not at peace around the world.

At home increasingly sexualised messages bombard young people in Scottish families. Children are almost egged on to experiment as they are assailed by safe sex, messages. The inevitable result is unwanted pregnancies, abortions and heartache. There is no doubt that a stable family is the key to so many benefits for spouses and children.

Not without reason has the church taught repeatedly that the family is the basic cell of society. If we damage that unit, it will be to the detriment of us all. Perhaps we should turn again to that nativity scene, where Mary and Joseph, are united in love and adoration of God's gift of a child. The example of the Holy Family, should fill us all with a renewed respect for the family, in society and across the world in the year ahead."