May 18, 2014 / 06:02 am
The family has a “unique character” that makes it a “patrimony for all humanity,” Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the United Nations.
Despite a hostile culture, the archbishop said, “a clear majority of persons want a family at the center of their life, and it would be mistake to think the family can be done away with.”
“We have to be much more cautious than we have been about weakening this fundamental unity that is not only the bearing wall of social life but that can also help us avoid the inhuman consequences of a society that has become hyper-individualistic and hyper-technological.”
He called for a “renewal of family models” that foster a family that is more understanding of itself, more attentive to its internal relationships, and more able to live in harmony with other families with respect for its surroundings.
Archbishop Paglia, a native of Italy, spoke at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City on May 15, the International Day of Families. The event marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, established by the U.N.’s General Assembly to raise awareness about the importance of families and to respond to the challenges they face.
The archbishop explained that the family uniquely combines two forms of relationships that have “radical differences”: the relationship between male and female and the relationship between parent and child. The family is not a venue for individualism that idealizes “autonomy and independence.” Rather, the family features “interdependence” and “reciprocity.”
The family is also a place for “strong relationships” that deeply affect its members “for good or ill.” It lacks the instability of other relationships and requires its members to interact with people different than themselves.
The archbishop said the family is “at the very heart of human development, indispensable and irreplaceable, and at the same time beautiful and welcoming.”
Countries that do not make men’s responsibility for their children a “structural element” face poorer social development, especially regarding women and children, he noted. …
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