On Feb. 10, recalling his visit to the United States and Mexico, the Pope exhorted Americans to build a culture of life through their daily lives, prayer, and action (see story by Brian Caulfield on this page).

I am pleased to add that I found American Catholics very concerned and committed to the defense of life and the family, inseparable values which are a great challenge for the present and future of humanity. In a certain sense, my journey was a great appeal to America to accept the Gospel of life and the family in order to reject and combat any form of violence against the human person, from conception to natural death, with moral consistency. No to abortion and to euthanasia; enough of the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty; no to racism and to the exploitation of children, women and indigenous peoples; put an end to the arms trade, to drug trafficking and to the destruction of the environmental patrimony!

To win these battles, we must spread the culture of life, which does not separate freedom and truth. The Church works each day for this by proclaiming Christ, the truth about God and the truth about man. She is particularly active in families, which are sanctuaries of life and fundamental schools for the culture of life: it is in the family that freedom learns to grow on firm moral foundations and, ultimately, on the law of God. America will only be able to play its important role in the Church and in the world if it defends and promotes the immense spiritual and social patrimony of its families.