Friday, 16 May 2008

The Family

VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received representatives from the Forum of Family Associations and from the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations, who are in Rome to participate in a conference entitled: "Alliance for the Family in Europe, associations in the leading role".

In his comments, the Pope recalled how the conference aims "to compare the experiences of various types of family association, and has the objective of raising the awareness of political leaders and public opinion on the central and irreplaceable role that the family plays in our society".

The Holy Father recalled the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae", and the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the "Charter of the Rights of the Family", presented by the Holy See in 1983.

"The Charter of the Rights of the Family is principally addressed to political leaders", said the Pope, and it "offers those invested with responsibility for the common good a model and a point of reference upon which to base appropriate political legislation for the family. At the same time, it is addressed to all families, encouraging them to come together in the defence and promotion of their rights".

Benedict XVI then quoted John Paul II, "the Pope of the family", who used to say that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family" and he added: "Biblical revelation is above all an expression of a story of love, a story of alliance with God and with mankind. This is why the story of love and union between a man and a woman in the alliance of marriage was taken up by God as a symbol of the history of salvation".

Turning to consider the difficulties facing families in the modern world, the Pope said: "From so many families, in a worryingly precarious state, we hear a cry for help, often an unconscious one, which clamours for a response from civil authorities, from ecclesial communities and from the various educational agencies. Accordingly, there is an increasingly urgent need for a common commitment to support families by every means available, from the social and economic point of view".

Among the proposals to emerge from the conference, the Holy Father praised that of "the laudable commitment to mobilise citizens in support of the initiative for 'family-friendly fiscal policy'", which aims to urge "governments to promote family-related policies that give parents a real possibility of having children and bringing them up in the family".

"For believers, the family (cell of communion at the very foundations of society) is like a 'small domestic church' called to reveal God's love to the world. ... Help families to be a visible sign of this truth, to defend the values which are written in human nature itself and which are therefore common to all humanity: life, the family and education. These are not principles deriving from a [particular] confession of faith but from the application of a justice respectful of the rights of each human being. This", he concluded, "is your mission, dear Christian families".

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