VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI called on governments and communities to help large families, saying children represent hope and the well-being of every nation.
"There is no future without children," he said at the end of his general audience Wednesday in a greeting to members of an Italian association of large families.
"In today's social context, a family made up of many children constitutes a witness of faith, courage and optimism," he said.
"I hope that adequate social and legislative measures are promoted that safeguard and sustain large families, which represent richness and hope for the whole country," he said.
In his catechesis, the pope continued a series of talks on prayer by highlighting some of Jesus' prayers during his crucifixion.
Jesus' willingness to forgive his tormenters and executioners is an invitation to all Christians to forgive those who cause harm or are in the wrong, the pope said.
People should pray for those who have done them wrong with "the same attitude of mercy and love that God has for us," he said.