DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     December 3-5, 1999     vol. 10, no. 230

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Pope States Family Is Attacked by Sectors of Society

        VATICAN CITY, DEC 1 (ZENIT).- Today's relativistic society attacks the very idea of the family presented by the Gospel, according to the Holy Father. "Not only are some models of family life contested, changing under the pressure of social transformations and new work conditions," he told the crowd gathered for the Wednesday Audience, "but even the very idea of family, that community founded on the marriage of a man and a woman, has been targeted in the name of a relativistic ethic that is making its way into large sectors of public opinion and even civil legislation."

        Although the Pope did not mention the specific attacks, these include the new concept of "families" promoted in some U.N. international forums, which hope to get legal matrimonial recognition for all kinds of arrangements for living together.

    The Greatest Crisis

        For the Holy Father, the crisis of contemporary society is rooted in the family. "Many pathological phenomena -- from loneliness to violence to drugs -- are explained by the fact that the nuclear family has lost its identity and function. Where the family diminishes, society loses its connective tissue," explained the Pope to the estimated 7,000 attendees from all over the world. "This has disastrous consequences, which destroy people, especially the weakest: from children to adolescents, to the handicapped, to the sick and aged."

        In face of this situation, and on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which will begin on Christmas Eve, John Paul II called for "reflection that helps not only believers, but all those of good will, to rediscover the value of marriage and the family."

    Love: Key Word

        John Paul II stated with clarity that the family cannot be understood without real love. "Far from closing the family in on itself, authentic love opens it out to all of society, so that the little domestic family and the large family of all human beings are not in opposition, but in intimate and authentic relationship."

        The Pope emphasized the importance that roles in the family hold "in the reciprocal spousal relationship and in the communal responsibility of the parents, figures of man and woman in how they are called to live out their natural characteristics within the bounds of a profound, enriching and respectful communion."

        He added, citing his 1994 Letter to Women, "To this 'unity of the two' God entrusts not only the work of procreation and the life of the family, but the very construction of history."

        Therefore, the child is not a weight, or a stranger who comes to disturb the comfort of the couple. According to the Pope, the child "must be understood as the maximum expression of the communion between man and woman, the reciprocal acceptance/donation that is realized and transcended in a 'third,' who is that child. The child is God's blessing. He transforms husband and wife into father and mother. Both 'go out from themselves' and express themselves beyond themselves in a person, the very fruit of their love."

        Present in the Paul VI Audience Hall were several newly married couples. The Pope took advantage of the occasion to invite them to be generous and welcome the great gift of life. ZE99120103

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 3-5, 1999       volume 10, no. 230


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