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Vatican blames Europe for decline of family

The Pontifical Council for the Family has accused European lawmakers of undermining family life, with recent legislative changes that have changed the age-old definition of the family into a vague and malleable definition of "an association of persons" who "live together".

The Council, which concluded a three-day meeting in Rome at the weekend, also criticised Catholic theologians who have given intellectual support to the legislation.

Zenit reports that Pope John Paul II held an audience with participants on Saturday, asserting his view that the family, based on marriage, is the most fundamental building block of any society, and any damage done to the family will cause irreparable harm to society.

Anyone who seeks to alter or distort this natural unit, he said, "causes a deep wound in society".

The government of Spain has moved toward legal recognition of same-sex unions, beginning next year. Belgium and the Netherlands have already taken that step. The Pontifical Council for the Family argued that majority approval does not necessarily guarantee good laws. Legislation that harms the family is disastrous, regardless of its popularity, the statement said.

The Council also condemned the "progressive dehumanisation" of laws regarding abortion, embryonic research, and artificial reproduction. The theme of the Pontifical Council's meeting was the role of older couples in providing guidance for young married and engaged couples.

The Council's statement observed that "it had become a heroic witness" to defend the family, so that the committed Christians who do so are increasingly valuable as models and sources of wisdom to newlyweds and to society at large. "The time is coming when to bear witness to what one believes will cause legal conflicts," the Pontifical Council predicted. In some parliamentary bodies, the statement observed, it is already regarded as "abusive and intolerant behavior" to resist attacks on family life. The Council remarked in this context that "the case of Spain appears particularly significant."

Vatican sees family under assault (Catholic World News 22/11/04)

Pope Warns Against Changes to Marriage (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 22/11/04)
Safeguarding the family, the basic fabric of society (Vatican Information Service 20/11/04)
To Destroy the Family Is to Destroy Society, Warns Pope (Zenit 21/11/04)

23 Nov 2004