DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     July 8, 1999     vol. 10, no. 131

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          ROME, 7 (NE and CWNews) "The 'lay confessor' is called to keep alive the child's sense of wonder and fear before the mystery of God's infinite love for us", said recently Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for Laity.

          During a Mass attended by several priests and many young people from different regions of Italy and other European countries, Cardinal Stafford recalled the testimony of lay commitment of blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, whom he called a "lay confessor at the turn of the second millennium".

          "In the primitive Church and until the Middle Ages, explained the Cardinal, the title of lay confessor was given to the person who suffered because of his faith, but who still didn't reach martyrdom".

          The Cardinal emphasized the need of the commitment of lay people in Evangelization. Recalling blessed Frassati, he said that "it was the street, not the altar nor the cloister, the vocation he had received from God". "In each part of the street he found challenges and sufferings, that which St Paul calls 'combat'", he added.

          Saying that Blessed Frassati suffered the incomprehension of his relatives and friends, Cardinal Stafford affirmed that "the lay confessor realizes that persecution is the normal condition of the Church in its relationship with the world". He also emphasized the need of lay people's unity, a unity that gathers all the different interests in Christ.

          Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in 1901, and was called by the Father to his Presence in 1925. He was the son of a rich family from the liberal bourgeoisie of Turin. He excelled in his service to poor and sick people, whom he visited during the night. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1990.

          At the same time CWN reports that after a meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Family last week, L'Osservatore Romano has published a report warning about the decline in respect for the father's role in the family.

          The Vatican newspaper reports that, in its deliberations, the Pontifical Council focused on the trend to downplay the authority and responsibility of the father. The father is often "seen as superfluous," L'Osservatore remarked, and media portrait's of the father's role are almost invariably unflattering.

          This "crisis of paternity" is the result of "deliberate confusion of the sexes," the Pontifical Council for the Family had found. Among the factors contributing to the crisis, the Council pointed to the "ambiguous tendencies of the state regarding one-parent households," and the drive for new models of the family that are not based on marriage.

          The educational role of the father is particularly important, the Council argued, and the recent tragedies acted out in American schools should serve as reminders of "the weakness of an educational system in which the father has been eliminated-- or has eliminated himself."

          The Pontifical Council warned that this dangerous trend is visible even inside the structures of the Catholic Church. The Council cautioned against catechetical instruction which accepts the "gender ideology" that asserts "the interchangeability of the sexes." Such an approach can have disastrous consequences, frequently leading to the acceptance of homosexuality and the degradation of marriage, the Vatican body observed.

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.

July 8, 1999       volume 10, no. 131


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