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Catholics and Orthodox: On Marriage and Family (Pt. III)

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12/17/2008 (1 decade ago)
Zenit News Agency (

There is a most urgent need to rediscover the understanding of the family and marriage. We believe that one of the primary causes of the current demographic crisis and all related crises is the rejection of this understanding.


Zenit News Agency (
12/17/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in Europe

TRENT, Italy (Zenit) - The final statement of the 1st European Catholic-Orthodox Forum on the theme: "The Family: A Good for Humanity" was held on Dec. 10-14, 2008 in Trent, Italy. (Catholic Online presents its conclusions in three parts, Editor)


C. The Crisis of our Society: Challenges and Opportunity

Today we are faced with a certain ideology of culture that emerged with the sexual revolution in the last century. This has brought about a deep crisis in the vision of what it is to be human and family life. It is a major challenge to the evangelization of the Christian Churches that are attentive to the needs of the heart of the human being and his or her calling to full life in Christ.

Among the profound changes of our society, a deep economic crisis has recently emerged. The banking, financial and economic crisis of today is one of the indicators of a major turning point in our global and European society. We are all rightly concerned. But another vital element of this turning point is the crisis in regard to family life. The demographic trends alone in Europe are clear signals of a crisis much greater than the financial one. The family, born of marriage between man and woman that gives rise to children and an extended network of relationships, needs to be rediscovered as valuable social capital. We appeal to political and social leaders to address this major social issue before it is too late. Without this attention, lack of financial funds will pale before the lack of social and human resources that the family brings.

On the other hand, we express gratitude for what has been done. Many positive developments have helped the family: recent social and economic recognition in some countries of the contribution of motherhood to society, financial and social assistance for the care of disabled and elderly, medical cover for those disadvantaged members of society.

III - Recommendations and Appeals

In recent years the Churches have become aware of the importance of supporting spiritual renewal and in particular accompanying young people as they journey towards becoming husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. While assisting all families pastorally, we recognize that special care needs to be given to newly established families. Marginalized families (and often migrant families are such) deserve attentive care. The Church's mission is to give hope to our society that today is faced with many challenges. We need to show signs of solidarity and through the media communicate our positive message regarding the family.

All of us together, Catholics and Orthodox, affirm the following recommendations and appeal to all people of good will in society to act together with us on them:

1. There is a most urgent need to rediscover the understanding of the family and marriage. We believe that one of the primary causes of the current demographic crisis and all related crises is the rejection of this understanding. Much effort needs to be invested in the promotion of family life. The family needs to be rediscovered for what it offers society. In the family, we have homes that are creative, dynamic and vital schools of socialization in many ways: educating family members to a discovery of the value of community and otherness, forming them in a culture of giving, encouraging openness to diversity in solidarity, facilitating mutuality in communication and providing a dynamic towards discovery and novelty, fruit of interpersonal endeavor.

2. We affirm that it is only in relationship to God that all human beings blossom in their full humanity. Accordingly, it is our belief that promoting family institution, based on the marriage of man and woman, Europe will be furthering this fundamental unit of society that carries out a vital liberating, fulfilling and enlightening role in society. To recognize this is the beginning of a renewal of our European culture that is seeking its way forward at this time of profound soul-searching. Our appeal to political and social leaders is the following: The family is not an outdated notion! Rightly rediscovered, it is the future. Without the mutual love of the family our society dies.

3. We affirm that, since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them. They must be acknowledged as the generally best suited and the first and foremost educators of their children. We call upon the political institutions to ensure the parents' right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions, taking into account the cultural traditions of the family. This includes the right to freely choose schools or other means necessary to educate their children in keeping with their convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents and must always be carried out according to their choice and under their close supervision.

4. We see a great danger in the apparent subordination of the needs of children and the well-being of the family to economic interests.

5. We call upon all public institutions to ensure that policies regarding remuneration for work are consistent with establishing and maintaining a family with dignity. This could be obtained by tax laws which recognize the indispensible contribution of the family to society. It should be such that both parents need not necessarily be obliged to work full time outside the home to the detriment of family life and especially to the detriment of the education of children. We call upon the public institutions to recognize and respect the work of the mother in the home because of its value for the family and for society. The issue of "child care" needs further consideration with the best interests of the child as the guiding principle.

6. Finally, we call to mind the moral choice on which the future of the whole of humanity depends. Its essence is expressed as a central point of the Covenant God made with the humankind which is fulfilled in Christ: 'See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day is to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments... that thou may live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee... I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live' (Deut. 30:15-19).

IV - Follow up

The experience of this Forum has been very positive in building up our fraternity and enabling us to share in our Christian concern for people. On the basis of this good experience, we intend to meet regularly to strengthen our mutual relations and address common challenges facing Europe.


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