On New Year's Eve in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided over the First Vespers on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the Te Deum of acts of grace for the ending year.
In the homily, Benedict XVI stated that the Church "with an abundance of gifts, accompanies man's journey, so that those who embrace Christ will have life and have it abundantly."
He said that during the past twelve months, the Church has had visits from many other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, "to deepen the dialogue of truth in charity, which unites all the baptized, and to experience together in a livelier way the desire for full communion." He also recalled that many believers of other religions "testified their cordial and brotherly esteem for this Church and its Bishop, conscious that in the serene and respectful encounter is hidden the spirit of an act in concordance with favor to all of humanity."
The Holy Father underlined that this year the pastoral program of the Diocese of Rome was centered on the family, and quoted in particular John Paul II, who on repeated occasions highlighted that "the crisis of the family is a serious prejudice to our own civilization." In this context, last June in an intervention at a Diocesan Congress, he "underlined the importance of the family founded on matrimony in the life of the Church and society."
At the end, Benedict XVI specifically remembered the "poorest and abandoned persons, all those having lost hope in a fundamental sense of self, or involuntary victims of egoistic interests, without even being asked for consent or their opinion."
He continued: "Making their sufferings ours, we entrust them to God, who knows how to turn all things towards good. We ask the Lord to mitigate with His grace the pains created by evil, and to continue to give vigor to our earthly existence, giving us the Bread and the Wine of Salvation, to help on the path towards the nation of Heaven."
After the celebration, the Pope briefly visited the Nativity Scene in St. Peter's Square