Papal Address to Focolare Families
"Your Task Is a Silent and Deep
Commitment to Evangelization"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2007 - Here is a
Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Nov. 3 address to the New
Families Movement of the lay Catholic Focalare Movement.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO
MEMBERS OF "THE NEW FAMILIES MOVEMENT"
Clementine Hall Saturday, 3 November 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome and thank you for coming to visit
me. You come from the five continents and belong to The New Families
Movement which came into being 40 years ago in the context of the
Focolare Movement. You are thus a branch of Focolare and today form a
network of at least 800,000 families working in 182 nations, all
committed to making their home a "focolare" [hearth] which radiates in
the world the witness of a Gospel-style family life. I offer each one
of you my most cordial greeting, which I extend also to those who have
wished to accompany you at our meeting. I greet in a special way your
leaders who have conveyed your common sentiments and described to me
your Movement's working methods as well as its goals. I thank you for
the greetings you have brought me from Chiara Lubich, to whom I send my
warm good wishes, thanking her because she continues to guide the large
family of the Focolare with wisdom and unswerving attachment to the
As has just been recalled, it is
precisely in the context of this vast and praiseworthy institution that
you, dear married couples, place yourselves at the service of the world
of families with an important and ever timely pastoral action that has
four orientations: spirituality, education, sociability and solidarity.
Your task is effectively a silent and deep commitment to evangelization
with the goal of testifying that only family unity, a gift of God-Love,
can make the family a true nest of love, a home that welcomes life and
a school of virtue and Christian values for children. As you confront
the many social and economic, cultural and religious issues that
challenge contemporary society in every part of the world, your work,
truly providential, is a sign of hope and an encouragement for
Christian families to be a privileged "space" where the beauty of
making Jesus Christ the focus and of faithfully following his Gospel is
proclaimed in everyday life, sometimes despite many difficulties.
Indeed, your meeting's theme: "A house built on the rock -- the Gospel
lived, a response to the problems of families today", emphasizes the
importance of this ascetical and pastoral itinerary. The secret is
precisely to live the Gospel!
Rightly, therefore, in the work of the
assembly during these days, in addition to contributions that
illustrate the situation of today's families in the different cultural
contexts, you have planned to deepen your knowledge of the Word of God
and to hear the testimonies that show how the Holy Spirit acts in
hearts and in family life, even in complex and difficult situations.
Only think of the uncertainties of engaged couples as they face
definitive decisions for the future, of the crisis of couples, of
separations and divorces as well as irregular unions, of the condition
of widows, of families in difficulty and of welcoming abandoned minors.
I warmly hope that also thanks to your commitment, pastoral strategies
may be identified to cope with the increasing needs of families today
and the multiple challenges that face them, so that they will not fail
in their special mission in the Church and in society.
In this regard, in the Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles Laici," my venerable and beloved
Predecessor John Paul II noted that the Church maintains that for the
faithful, "the first and basic expression of the social dimension... is
the married couple and the family" (n. 40). To bring this vocation to
fruition, the family, aware that it is the primary cell of society,
must not forget that it can find strength in a Sacrament desired by
Christ to reinforce the love between man and woman: a love understood
as a gift of self, reciprocal and profound. As John Paul II likewise
observed: "The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate
love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God's
love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church, his
Bride" ("Familiaris Consortio," n. 17). Thus, according to the divine
plan, the family is a sacred and sanctifying place and the Church,
which has always been close to the family, supports it in this mission,
especially today when the internal and external threats to it are so
numerous. In order not to succumb to discouragement, divine help is
essential; thus, every Christian family must look with trust to the
Holy Family, the original "domestic Church" in which "through God's
mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long
years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for
all Christian families" (ibid., n. 45).
Dear brothers and sisters, the humble and
holy Family of Nazareth, the icon and model of every human family, will
not let you go without its heavenly support. Nonetheless, your
ceaseless recourse to prayer, to listening to the Word of God and to an
intense sacramental life is indispensable, together with a constant
effort to live Christ's commandment of love and forgiveness. Love does
not seek its own interests, it does not harbour rancour for evil
received but rejoices in truth. Love "bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures all things" (I Cor 13: 5-7). Dear
brothers and sisters, continue your journey and be witnesses of this
Love which will make you increasingly the "heart" and "leaven" of the
entire New Families Movement. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer
for each one of you, for your activities and all those you meet in your
apostolate, and with affection I now impart to you all the Apostolic
Archbishop Naumann on
Benedict XVI and the Family
Interview With Kansas City Prelate
KANSAS CITY, Kansas, JUNE 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's
Spain for the World Meeting of Families next month will only confirm
the pontiff's evident concern for the renewal of the family.
So says Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, a member of the
bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family.
Archbishop Naumann, 57, shared with ZENIT how the Pope has shown
the state of the family is a priority during the first year of his
Q: Pope Benedict XVI has made few international trips, but he has
decided to be present at the upcoming World Meeting of Families in
Valencia. What does it tell us about the importance he places on the
Archbishop Naumann: His decision to attend the World Meeting of
Families is a public affirmation of the invaluable worth he places on
the family. We have already seen in just the year since his election
that renewing the family is a priority of his pontificate.
His first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," gives much attention to
love between a man and a woman, how human love, especially eros, must
be connected to divine love and the good of children, and the important
role of love in the public life.
And since the family is the first school of love, we can infer
healthy family is essential to a healthy society.
With all of this is Pope Benedict's constant interest in uniting
questions of the social order with a vigorous pursuit of truth. To be a
well-ordered society the truth of the family must be upheld.
So, his decision to attend the World Meeting of Families is
with his interest in defending the proper relationship between truth
and love within the family.
Q: Does the Pope have a "theology of the family"?
Archbishop Naumann: I would not necessarily say that Pope Benedict
has his own theology of the family, but that he teaches with unique
clarity the mind of the Church.
His new role as the universal pastor of the Church means that he
out to suggest his own way of thinking, but to simply propose in new
ways what the Church already believes.
Pope Benedict's teaching on marriage and family is obviously
and in harmony with the teaching of Pope John Paul II. We must,
therefore, read Pope Benedict within the context of John Paul II.
If anyone hopes to understand the mind of Pope Benedict relative
family, he or she needs to spend time with the writings of Pope John
Paul II, especially "Familiaris Consortio" and his "Letter to Families."
That being said, Pope Benedict is making some important
especially as to the situation in Europe, about the decline of the
family's unique role in culture, and how a European culture separated
from its Christian roots is harmful to family life.
He recently affirmed that marriage is one of the issues that
cannot allow any compromise. This should not be surprising, but it does
suggest that this issue is very much something that concerns him.
Q: Is there anything in the then Cardinal Ratzinger's writings or
background that may provide a clue to his pastoral plan at the meeting?
Archbishop Naumann: Again, I would first suggest that we can get
insight into Cardinal Ratzinger's thinking by looking at the writings
of Pope John Paul II.
As prefect for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger reviewed
contributed to the official writings of John Paul II. The two of them
had a very close relationship and it is reasonable to think that they
influenced each other.
Aside from his collaborations with Pope John Paul II, Pope
spoke many times with his own voice about the dignity of marriage and
A few years ago, when then Cardinal Ratzinger addressed the
Senate, he identified three areas of concern for Europe -- one of which
was the legal status of the family. He argued that Europe would no
longer be Europe if the status of the family was essentially changed.
From this I think it is safe to assume that he will vigorously
Christian understanding of the family. Christian people have a
responsibility to stand against the dissolution of marriage and the
family, and I imagine the Pope will remind the Church of her role as a
defender of the family.
We see in his motto, "cooperators veritatis," that he is
concerned with truth. He believes the family, as well as being a place
of love, is called to be a school of truth.
Civilization must be founded on truth, and it is within the
family that truth is first lived and experienced. The relationship of
the family to truth and love within culture is a theme that he has
touched on in the past; whether he brings it up explicitly, it colors
his entire approach to the subject.
Q: It appears that the nations of Europe are aggressively trying
redefine the family. What can philosophers and theologians do to combat
Archbishop Naumann: This is a critical issue facing the Church
More and more, traditional marriage is under attack in Europe.
The European Union, in particular, is pressuring all its members
abandoning the traditional definition of marriage and family. Europe is
turning into a culture that is growing more hostile toward traditional
marriage -- not just in practice but also in law.
Pope Benedict has said, however, that either Europe is Christian
there is no Europe. The fight for the family, which is part of the
fight for Europe's Christian identity, will determine whether Europe
continues to exist as we know it.
It is the responsibility of the laity to engage the emerging
culture and political order to remind Europe of its heritage and the
dangers of abandoning the values that held Western civilization
together through some very difficult periods of history.
Philosophers and theologians must show the errors of an absolute
secularization of European culture and provide coherent reasons to
protect the family from being redefined into nonexistence.
Europe has tragically suffered through countless wars, but the
war we see today and the growing widespread antagonism toward
Christianity imperils the very soul of Europe in ways that Europe has
to date been able to resist.
This is no more evident than in the battle for marriage and the
which is seen in the growing societal acceptance of anti-family forces
such as contraception, divorce and homosexuality.
It is up to the Church, especially those who can influence the
debate, to fight against a secular Europe, and uphold the dignity of
traditional, Christian values.
Q: The Pope has made several pronouncements criticizing same-sex
unions. What are his reasons behind his conviction that they are not an
acceptable form of the family?
Archbishop Naumann: Same-sex unions are not marriages. The attempt
put same-sex unions on equal footing with marriage is a direct attack
on the family, and the Pope is right to speak out aggressively in
defense of traditional marriage.
Marriage, by its natural purpose, is directed toward the
union of the man and the woman and the gift of children; homosexual
relationships seek to remove sexuality from these goods.
Marriage is not a convenient arrangement by which two individuals
self-gratification. It is ordered toward the gift of self, both in the
form of the spouses to each other and in the raising of children.
Same-sex unions are a violation on the moral order. The premise of
same-sex union is homosexual activity of the participants. Homosexual
activity violates the natural law, clear biblical teaching and the
consistent teaching of the magisterium of the Catholic Church.
The effort to give societal approval to same-sex unions,
unconsciously, undermines traditional marriage by equating it with
sinful behaviors. While in fact, traditional marriage is an opportunity
to imitate the love of Jesus for his spouse the Church.
Q: How do you think Pope Benedict conceives of the family's role
re-evangelization of Europe?
Archbishop Naumann: My impression is that he believes that there
be a re-evangelization of Europe without a defense and renewal of the
family. The two are intimately connected.
His encyclical suggests that love is the source for hope. If there
to be a re-evangelization of Europe it will come through love, which is
born from the family.
PROMOTING FAMILY IS ESSENTIAL FOR
DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY
VATICAN CITY, JUN 9,
2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano sent a message,
in the Holy Father's name, to participants in the 36th General Assembly
of the Organization of American States (OAS), which closed on June 6 in
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The principle theme of the assembly, the message says, "is
dignity of human beings and the absolute value of human life from
conception to natural end." On this subject, the cardinal recalls how
the American continent "has a long tradition of respecting life, now
threatened by the pressure of opinions contrary to its nature."
"In the field of protecting human dignity," he writes,
priority is to favor the conditions that reduce violence in its various
forms: terrorism, attacks against innocent civilians, kidnappings,
threats and drug trafficking."
Cardinal Sodano identifies another essential theme
with that of human dignity: "The promotion of the family based on
marriage. Promoting the family is an essential task for the development
of society throughout the continent. The family is a place of
education, knowledge, and of the basic formation of the future
protagonists of social life. For this reason, the principal entity that
States must protect and promote is the family."
"The role played by parents is fundamental," the message
continues, "and it cannot be replaced by the State or by any other
institution, which are a necessary and very beneficial complement but
do not substitute the primordial role of parents, who must also choose
the kind of education they want for their children."
After highlighting that the family "cannot adequately carry
its mission if it does not have the minimum material requirements to do
so, the cardinal secretary of State deplored "the persistence, at times
aggravated persistence, of poverty, and the growing gap between the
richest and the poorest."
"It is not only a matter of fairer distribution of what is
available, but also of improving production conditions and of seeking
new ways to develop in peace and harmony for all. In this context. the
Church's social doctrine offers a framework for laying the foundations
of a society that has at its center man, not money or ideology."
Cardinal Sodano concludes his message by making a call "to
continue down the path of constant dialogue between States," it being
one of the OAS's functions "to guarantee such dialogue. The vast
majority of inhabitants of the OAS countries are Christians, and
Christian roots can make a decisive contribution to the social and
political life of American States."
TO THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE
Promoting the 'Gospel of the family and of life' (May 13,
On Saturday, 13 May, in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the Holy
spoke to participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council
for the Family. The following is a translation of his Address in
Reverend Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It gives me great pleasure to meet you at the end of the Plenary
Session of the Pontifical Council for the Family, created by my
Venerable Predecessor, John Paul II, on 9 May 1981, which is
celebrating its 25th anniversary in these days. I address my cordial
greeting to each one of you with a special thought for Cardinal Alfonso
López Trujillo, whom I thank for having interpreted your common
This meeting has given you an opportunity to examine the
pastoral projects concerning the family, rightly considered a domestic
church and a sanctuary of life. It is a vast, complex and delicate
field of apostolate to which you devote energy and enthusiasm, with the
intention of promoting the "Gospel of the family and of life". In this
regard, how can we forget the broad and far-sighted vision of my
Predecessors and especially of John Paul II, who have courageously
promoted the cause of the family, considering it a decisive and
irreplaceable value for the common good of the peoples?
The family, founded on marriage, is the "patrimony of humanity", a
fundamental social institution; it is the vital cell and pillar of
society and this concerns believers and non-believers alike. It is a
reality that all States must hold in the highest regard because, as
John Paul II liked to repeat, "the future of humanity passes by way of
the family" (Familiaris Consortio, n. 86).
Love open to life
In the Christian vision, moreover, marriage, which Christ raised
most exalted dignity of a sacrament, confers greater splendour and
depth on the conjugal bond and more powerfully binds the spouses who,
blessed by the Lord of the Covenant, promise each other faithfulness
until death in love that is open to life.
For them, the Lord is the centre and heart of the family. He
accompanies them in their union and sustains them in their mission to
raise children to maturity. In this way the Christian family not only
cooperates with God in generating natural life, but also in cultivating
the seeds of divine life given in Baptism. These are the well-known
principles of the Christian view of marriage and the family. I recalled
them once again last Thursday, when I spoke to the members of the John
Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.
In today's world, where certain erroneous concepts concerning the
being, freedom and love are spreading, we must never tire of presenting
anew the truth about the family institution, as God has desired it
since creation. Unfortunately, the number of separations and divorces
is increasing. They destroy family unity and create numerous problems
for children, the innocent victims of these situations. In our day it
is especially the stability of the family that is at risk; to safeguard
it one often has to swim against the tide of the prevalent culture, and
this demands patience, effort, sacrifice and the ceaseless quest for
mutual understanding. Today, however, it is possible for husbands and
wives to overcome their difficulties and remain faithful to their
vocation with recourse to God's support, with prayer and participating
devotedly in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. The unity and
strength of families helps society to breathe the genuine human values
and to be open to the Gospel. The apostolate of many of the Movements
called to work in this context in harmonious understanding with the
dioceses and parishes contributes to this.
Respect for embryonic
Furthermore, a particularly sensitive topic today is the respect
the human embryo, which ought always to be born from an act of love and
should already be treated as a person (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 60).
The progress of science and technology in the area of bioethics is
transformed into a threat when human beings lose the sense of their own
limitations and, in practice, claim to replace God the Creator. The
Encyclical Humanae Vitae reasserts clearly that human procreation must
always be the fruit of the conjugal act with its twofold unitive and
procreative meaning (cf. n. 12).
The greatness of conjugal love in accordance with the divine plan
demands it, as I recalled in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est:
"Eros reduced to pure "sex', has become a commodity, a mere "thing' to
be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity.... Here
we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body" (n. 5).
Thanks to God, many, especially young people, are rediscovering
value of chastity, which appears more and more as a reliable guarantee
of authentic love. The historical period in which we live asks
Christian families to witness with courageous coherence to the fact
that procreation is the fruit of love. Such a witness will not fail to
encourage politicians and legislators to safeguard the rights of the
family. Indeed, it is well known that juridical solutions for the
so-called "de facto" unions are gaining credibility; although they
reject the obligations of marriage, they claim enjoyment of the same
Furthermore, at times there are even attempts to give marriage a
definition in order to legalize homosexual unions, attributing to them
the right to adopt children. Vast areas of the world are suffering from
the so-called "demographic winter", with the consequent gradual ageing
of the population. Families sometimes seem ensnared by the fear of life
and of parenthood. It is necessary to restore their trust, so that they
can continue to carry out their noble mission of procreation in love. I
am grateful to your Pontifical Council because at various continental
and national meetings, it seeks to enter into dialogue with those who
have political and legislative responsibility in this regard, as it
also strives to set up a vast network of conversations with Bishops,
offering the local Churches the opportunity of courses for those with
Next, I take this opportunity to repeat my invitation to all the
diocesan communities to take part with their delegations in the Fifth
World Meeting of Families that will take place next July in Valencia,
Spain, and in which, please God, I will have the joy of participating.
Thank you again for your work; may the Lord continue to make it
fruitful! For this I assure you of my remembrance in prayer while,
invoking Mary's motherly protection, I impart to all of you my
Blessing, which I willingly extend to families so that they will
continue to build their homes on the model of the Holy Family of
(©L'Osservatore Romano - 24 May 2006)
Benedict XVI's Address to
John Paul II Institute
"Authentic Love Is Transformed Into a Light"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of
address Benedict XVI delivered today when receiving participants in the
congress promoted by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage
and the Family.
* * *
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
With great joy I meet with you on this 25th anniversary of the
foundation of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on
Marriage and the Family, in the Pontifical Lateran University. I greet
you all with affection and I offer my heartfelt thanks to Monsignor
Livio Melina for the kind words he addressed to me in your name.
The beginnings of your institute are related to a very special
precisely on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square, my beloved
predecessor, John Paul II, suffered the well-known grave attempt on his
life during the audience in which he should have announced the creation
of your institute. This event is of special importance in the present
commemoration, which we celebrate shortly after the anniversary of his
death. You wished to highlight it through the appropriate initiative of
a congress dedicated to the theme "The Legacy of John Paul II on
Marriage and the Family: to Love Human Love."
With reason you feel this legacy in a totally special manner, as
are the recipients and continuators of the vision that was one of the
pivots of his mission and reflections: God's plan for marriage and the
family. It is a legacy that is not simply an ensemble of doctrines and
ideas, but is, above all, a teaching gifted with a luminous unity on
the meaning of the human love of life. The presence of numerous
families in this audience is a particularly eloquent testimony of how
the teaching of this truth is accepted and has borne fruits.
The idea to "teach to love" was already with the young priest
Wojtyla and subsequently energized him, as a young bishop, when he
faced the difficult moments that followed the publication of the
prophetic and always timely encyclical of my predecessor Paul VI,
"Humanae Vitae." It was in that circumstance that he understood the
need to undertake a systematic study of this topic.
This constituted the substratum of that teaching that he later
to the whole Church in his "Catechesis on Human Love." He underlined in
this way the two fundamental elements that you have tried to reflect on
more profoundly in these years and that configure the very novelty of
your institute as an academic reality with a specific mission within
The first element is that marriage and the family are rooted in
innermost core of the truth about man and his destiny. Sacred Scripture
reveals that the vocation to love is part of that authentic image of
God that the Creator willed to imprint in his creature, calling man to
become similar to him precisely in the measure in which man is open to
love. The sexual difference entailed in the body of man and woman is
not, therefore, a simple biological fact, but bears a much more
profound meaning: It expresses that way of love with which man and
woman become only one flesh; they can realize an authentic communion of
persons open to the transmission of life and cooperate in this way with
God in the procreation of new human beings.
A second element characterizes the novelty of John Paul II's
on human love: his original way of reading God's plan in the
convergence between revelation and human experience. In Christ, in
fact, fullness of the revelation of the Father's love, is also
manifested the full truth of man's vocation to love, which can only be
found fully in the sincere giving of oneself.
In my recent encyclical I wished to underline how, precisely,
love "the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and
its destiny" is expressed ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1). That is, he made
use of the way of love to reveal the mystery of his Trinitarian life.
In addition, the profound relationship that exists between the
God-Love and human love enables us to understand that "monogamous
marriage corresponds to the image of the monotheist God. Marriage based
on an exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the
relationship of God with his People and vice versa, God's way of loving
becomes the measure of human love" (ibid., No. 11). This indication
still remains to a large extent to be explored.
In this way the task is outlined that the Institute for Studies on
Marriage and the Family has in the whole of its academic structures: to
illuminate the truth of life as a way of plenitude for all forms of
human existence. The great challenge of the New Evangelization, which
John Paul II proposed with so much drive, needs to be supported with a
profound authentic reflection on human love, as this love is a
privileged way that God has chosen to reveal himself to the world and
in this love he calls it to communion in the Trinitarian life.
This approach also enables us to overcome a conception enclosed in
merely private love, which is so widespread today. Authentic love is
transformed into a light that guides the whole of life toward
plenitude, generating a humanized society for man. The communion of
life and love, which is marriage, becomes in this way an authentic good
for society. To avoid the confusion with other types of unions based on
weak love is something especially urgent today. Only the rock of total
and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of being the
foundation of a society that becomes a home for all people.
The importance that the work of the institute entails in the
the Church explains its own configuration: In fact, John Paul II had
approved only one institute with different premises spread over the
five continents, with the objective of being able to offer a reflection
that shows the wealth of the only truth in the plurality of cultures.
This unity of vision in research and teaching, despite the
places and sensitivities, represents a value that you must guard,
developing the riches rooted in every culture. This characteristic of
the institute has demonstrated itself to be particularly appropriate
for the study of a reality such as marriage and the family. Your work
can show how the gift of creation lived in the different cultures has
been elevated to grace of redemption by Christ.
To be able to carry out your mission well as faithful heirs of the
institute's founder, our beloved John Paul II, I invite you to
contemplate Mary Most Holy, as the Mother of Beautiful Love. The
redeeming love of the incarnate Word must become for each marriage and
each family "fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting
world" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 42). To all of you, dear professors,
students of yesterday and today, to all the staff, as well as the
families of your Institute, I express my best wishes, accompanied by a
DO NOT OBSCURE THE
VATICAN CITY, JAN 12, 2006
(VIS) - This morning, Benedict
received Piero Marrazzo, president of the regional administration of
Lazio, Italy; Walter Veltroni, mayor of the city of Rome; and Enrico
Gasbarra, president of the provincial administration of Rome, for the
traditional exchange of New Year greetings.
In his address to the three men and their entourages, the Pope
highlighted how the people of Rome and Lazio had clearly expressed
their affection for John Paul II during the period of his final illness
and death. He also thanked the authorities and institutions for their
"great contribution" in welcoming the millions of people who came to
Rome "to pay their final homage to the lamented Pontiff, and on the
occasion of my own election to the See of Peter."
That "profound spiritual experience of faith and of prayer, of
brotherhood and of rediscovery of the things that make our lives
worthwhile and rich in meaning," must also bear fruit within "the civil
community, its duties and its multiple responsibilities and
Going on to refer to the family, the Holy Father recalled that for
three years it has represented the central focus of the pastoral
activities of the diocese of Rome, "in order to help [the family] face
the reasons behind the crises and distrust present in our own culture,
giving it a clearer and firmer awareness of its own nature and tasks."
Benedict XVI then recalled the words he had used in June 2005
the congress of the diocese of Rome, to the effect that "marriage and
the family are not in fact a chance sociological construction, the
product of particular historical and financial situations. On the other
hand, the question of the right relationship between man and woman is
rooted in the essential core of the human being and it is only by
starting from here that its response can be found. ... Marriage as an
institution is thus not an undue interference of society or of
authority. The external imposition of form on the most private reality
of life is instead an intrinsic requirement of the covenant of conjugal
He continued: "What we are talking about here are not norms
to Catholic morals, but elementary truths that concern our shared
humanity. To respect them is essential for the good of the individual
and of society. These truths, then, appeal both to your responsibility
as public administrators and to your normative duties."
The Pope referred to the need to support young couples in forming
family and in educating their children, bearing in mind the cost of
rent and of nursery schools, adding: "It is a grave error to obscure
the value and the functions of the legitimate family based on marriage,
attributing to other forms of union inappropriate forms of legal
recognition, for which there is no real social need."
The Holy Father also asked that attention be given to "the
of nascent human life," that there be no lack of "concrete assistance"
to pregnant women experiencing difficulties, and that there be no
introduction of drugs "that hide in one way or another the severity of
abortion as a choice against life. In an aging society," he added,
"help for the elderly and all the complex problems concerning the
health care of citizens become ever more important."
After encouraging the administrators to continue with the efforts
are making in these matters, Benedict XVI stressed that "continuous
scientific and technological developments in the field of healthcare
and the commitment to contain costs should be promoted while
maintaining firm the principle of the central importance of the sick
In the face of so many "cases of psychological suffering and
the Holy Father stressed the importance of giving "adequate help to
families who often find themselves having to face extremely difficult
situations." He concluded by expressing his satisfaction at the "growth
over these years of various forms of collaboration between ecclesial
volunteer organizations and the public administration of Rome city,
province and region in the work of alleviating old and new forms of
poverty which, unfortunately, afflict
Papal Address to Latin American Bishops' Meeting
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of
message Benedict XVI gave Dec. 3 to the 3rd Meeting of the Presidents
of the Episcopal Commissions for the Family and Life of Latin America.
The meeting in Rome was organized by the Pontifical Council for the
* * *
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
1. I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of the Third
the Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions for the Family and Life of
Latin America. I should like to express my gratitude for the words
addressed to me by Cardinal Alfonso Lóópez Trujillo,
president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Together with the whole Church, I witnessed Pope John Paul II's
for this most important topic. For my part, I make my own this same
concern, which will have a far-reaching effect on the future of the
Church and the peoples since, as my Predecessor said in his apostolic
exhortation "Familiaris Consortio": "The future of humanity passes by
way of the family!"
"It is therefore indispensable and urgent that every person of
will should endeavor to save and foster the values and requirements of
the family." And he added: "Christians also have the mission of
proclaiming with joy and conviction the 'Good News' about the family,
for the family absolutely needs to hear ever anew and to understand
ever more deeply the authentic words that reveal its identity, its
inner resources and the importance of its mission in the City of God
and in that of man" (Conclusion, No. 86).
The apostolic exhortation cited together with the Letter to
"Gratissimam Sane" and the encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" constitute, as
it were, a luminous triptych that must inspire your task as pastors.
2. I wish to thank you in particular for your pastoral concern
seeks to safeguard the fundamental values of marriage and the family.
They are threatened by the current phenomenon of secularization that
prevents the social conscience from discovering adequately the identity
and mission of the family institution and recently, by the pressure of
unjust laws that fail to recognize its fundamental rights.
In light of this situation, I am pleased to note the increase in
consolidation of the particular Churches' work for this human
institution, which is rooted in God's loving plan and represents the
irreplaceable model for the common good of humanity. Homes that give a
generous response to the Lord abound and there is also a wealth of
pastoral experiences, a sign of new vitality, in which family identity
is reinforced by means of better marriage preparation.
3. Your duty as pastors consists in presenting in its full
extraordinary value of marriage, which as a natural institution is a
"patrimony of humanity." Moreover, its elevation to the loftiest
dignity of a sacrament must be seen with gratitude and wonder, as I
recently said, affirming:
"The sacramental quality that marriage assumes in Christ therefore
means that the gift of creation has been raised to the grace of
redemption. Christ's grace is not an external addition to human nature,
it does not do violence to men and women but sets them free and
restores them, precisely by raising them above their own limitations"
(" Address to the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome," June 6, 2005;
L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, June, 15, p. 6).
4. The spouses' love and total gift of self, with their special
connotations of exclusivity, fidelity, permanence in time and openness
to life, are at the root of this communion of life and love that
constitutes the married state (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," No. 48).
Today, it is necessary to proclaim with renewed enthusiasm that
Gospel of the family is a process of human and spiritual fulfillment in
the certainty that the Lord is always present with his grace. This
proclamation is often distorted by false concepts of marriage and the
family that do not respect God's original plan. In this regard, people
have actually reached the point of suggesting new forms of marriage,
some unknown to popular cultures in that its specific nature is altered.
Also in the life context, new models are being proposed that
this fundamental right. As a result, the elimination of embryos or
their arbitrary use in the name of scientific progress, which fails to
recognize its own limits and to accept all the moral principles that
make it possible to safeguard the dignity of the person, becomes a
threat to the human being who is reduced to an object or a mere
instrument. When such levels are reached, society itself is affected
and every kind of risk shakes its foundations.
5. In Latin America, as in all other places, children have the
be born and to be raised in a family founded on marriage, where parents
are the first educators of the faith for their children in order for
them to reach full human and spiritual maturity.
Children truly are the family's greatest treasure and most
good. Consequently, everyone must be helped to become aware of the
intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion. In attacking human life in its
very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself.
Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good,
are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of
6. It is certain that for pastoral action in so delicate and
area, in which various disciplines are involved and fundamental issues
faced, a careful training of pastoral workers in the dioceses is
Priests, therefore, as the immediate collaborators of the bishops,
receive a sound training in this field that will enable them to face
competently and with conviction the problems that arise in their
As for lay people, especially those who devote their energy to
service of families, they in turn need a proper and sound formation
that will help them witness to the greatness and lasting value of
marriage in today's society.
7. Dear brothers and sisters, as you know well, the Fifth World
of Families is not far off. It will be held in Valencia, Spain, on the
theme: The transmission of faith in the family.
In this regard, I would like to offer my cordial greeting to
Agustíín Garcíía-Gasco of that city, who is
taking part in this meeting and who, with the Pontifical Council for
the Family, is sharing the challenging task of its preparation. I
encourage you all so that numerous delegations of the bishops'
conferences, dioceses and movements of Latin America will be able to
take part in this important ecclesial event.
For my part, I firmly support the holding of this meeting and
under the loving protection of the Holy Family.
Dear pastors, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing to you and
all the families in Latin America.
THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE
TO MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
VATICAN CITY, JUN
4, 2005 (VIS) - Made public
was a letter from the Holy Father to Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo,
of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he renews the
made by John Paul II to attend the Fifth World Meeting of Families, due
to be held in Valencia, Spain, in July 2006.
the theme of the meeting,
of Faith in the Family," the Pope writes in his letter, dated May 17,
he aims "to encourage, as John Paul II did, 'the stupendous novelty,'
'Gospel of the family,' the value of which has central importance for
Church and for society."
"In order to
give a truly human face to
he goes on, "no one can ignore the precious gift of the family, based
matrimony. The marriage bond, in which man and woman together
a life-long association, ordered by its very nature for the good of the
spouses and the generation and education of children," is the basis of
the family, the heritage and shared wealth of humanity. Thus the Church
cannot cease to announce that, in accordance with God's plans, marriage
and the family are irreplaceable and admit no alternatives."
underscores the fact that,
more than ever, the Christian family has a most noble and inexorable
that of transmitting the faith. ... Parents are the first evangelizers
of their children, precious gifts of the Creator, beginning with
them their first prayers. Thus a moral universe is created, one rooted
in the will of God and in which children are raised in human and
values that give full meaning to life."
Benedict XVI on
Anthropological Foundation of the
Addresses Congress of
the Diocese of Rome
ROME, JUNE 9, 2005
(Zenit.org).- Here is a
of the address Benedict XVI delivered Monday in the Basilica of St.
Lateran, at the opening of the Ecclesial Congress of the Diocese of
The theme of the congress was "Family and Christian Community:
of the Person and Transmission of the Faith."
* * *
Dear Brothers and
I was very pleased to
accept the invitation to open
diocesan congress with a reflection, above all because it gives me the
possibility to meet with you, to have direct contact, and also because
it enables me to help you reflect further on the meaning and objective
of the pastoral program being followed by the Church of Rome.
I affectionately greet
each of you bishops, priests,
and women religious, and in particular you, the laity and families, who
consciously assume these tasks of Christian commitment and testimony
have their roots in the sacrament of baptism and, for those who are
in that of marriage. My heartfelt thanks to the cardinal vicar and to
spouses Luca and Adriana Pasquale, for the words they addressed to me
This congress, and the
pastoral year to which it
offer guidelines, constitute a new stage in the endeavor the Church has
begun, based on the diocesan synod, with the citizen mission so
by our beloved Pope John Paul II, in preparation for the Great Jubilee
of the Year 2000. In that mission all the realities of our dioceses --
parishes, religious communities, associations and movements --
not only on the occasion of a mission to the people of Rome, but to be
themselves "people of God on mission," putting into practice the wise
of John Paul II: "Parish, look for yourself and find yourself outside
that is, in places where people live. In this way, in the course of the
citizen mission, many thousands of Christians of Rome, in the main
became missionaries and took the word of faith in the first place to
of the diverse neighborhoods of the city and later to various
hospitals, schools and universities, and realms of culture and free
After the Holy Year, my
that you not interrupt this endeavor, and that you not disperse the
energies awakened and the fruits of grace that were gathered. Because
this, since the year 2001, the fundamental pastoral orientation of the
diocese has been to establish the mission permanently, characterizing
a more-determined missionary way the life and activities of the
and of each of the other ecclesial realities. First of all I want to
you that I wish to confirm this option fully: It is ever more necessary
and has no alternatives, in a social and cultural context in which
forces act that tend to distance us from the faith and Christian life.
For two years now, the
missionary commitment of the
of Rome has concentrated above all on the family, not only because this
fundamental human reality is subjected today to multiple difficulties
threats, and therefore is in particular need of being evangelized and
concretely, but also because Christian families constitute a decisive
for education in the faith, the building of the Church as communion and
its capacity of missionary presence in the most varied situations of
as well as to leaven in a Christian sense the culture and social
We will also continue
with these guidelines in the
pastoral year and for this reason the theme of our congress is "Family
and Christian Community: Formation of the Person and Transmission of
Faith." The assumption with which one must begin to understand the
of the family in the Christian community and its endeavors of formation
of the person and transmission of the faith, continues to be always the
meaning that marriage and the family have in the plan of God, Creator
Savior. This will be therefore the essence of my reflection this
referring to the teaching of the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris
(Part 2, Nos. 12-16).
foundation of the family
Marriage and the family
are not a casual
construct, fruit of particular historical and economic situations. On
contrary, the question of the right relationship between man and woman
sinks its roots in the most profound essence of the human being, and
only find its answer in the latter. It cannot be separated from the
ancient and always new question of man about himself: Who am I? And
question, in turn, cannot be separated from the question about God:
God exist? And, who is God? What is his face really like? The Bible's
to these two questions is unitary and consequential: Man is created in
the image of God, and God himself is love. For this reason, the
to love is what makes man the authentic image of God: He becomes like
in the measure that he becomes someone who loves.
From this fundamental
bond between God and man
is derived: The indissoluble bond between spirit and body. Man is, in
soul that expresses itself in the body and [the] body that is vivified
by an immortal spirit. Also, the body of man and of woman has,
so to speak, a theological character, it is not simply body, and what
biological in man is not only biological, but an _expression and
of our humanity. In this way, human sexuality is not next to our being
person, but belongs to it. Only when sexuality is integrated in the
does it succeed in giving itself meaning.
In this way, from the
two bonds, that of man with
and -- in man -- that of the body with the spirit, arises a third bond:
the one that exists between person and institution. The totality of man
includes the dimension of time, and man's "yes" goes beyond the present
moment: In his totality, the "yes" means "always," it constitutes the
of fidelity. Only in his interior can this faith grow which gives a
and allows the children, fruit of love, to believe in man and in his
in difficult times.
The freedom of the
"yes" appears therefore as
capable of assuming what is definitive: The highest _expression of
is not therefore the pursuit of pleasure, without ever arriving at a
decision. Seemingly this permanent openness appears to be the
of freedom, but it is not true: The true _expression of freedom is, on
the contrary, the capacity to decide for a definitive gift, in which
by surrendering itself, finds itself fully again.
personal and reciprocal "yes" of man
woman opens space for the future, for the authentic humanity of each
and at the same time is destined to the gift of a new life. For this
this personal "yes" must necessarily be a "yes" that is also publicly
with which the spouses assume the public responsibility of
which also guarantees the future for the community. None of us belongs
exclusively to himself: Therefore, each one is called to assume in his
deepest self his own public responsibility. Marriage, as an
is not therefore an undue interference of society or of the
an imposition from outside in the most private reality of life; it is
the contrary an intrinsic exigency of the pact of conjugal love and of
the depth of the human person.
The different present
forms of the dissolution of
as well as free unions and "trial marriage," including the
between persons of the same sex, are on the contrary expressions of an
anarchic freedom that appears erroneously as man's authentic
A pseudo-freedom like this is based on a trivialization of the body,
inevitably includes the trivialization of man.
Its assumption is that
man can make of himself what
likes: Thus his body becomes something secondary, which can be
from the human point of view, which can be used as one pleases.
which appears as discovery of the body and its value, is in reality a
that makes the body contemptible, leaving it so to speak outside the
being and dignity of the person.
Marriage and Family in
the History of Salvation
The truth of marriage
and the family, which sinks
roots in the truth of man, has found its application in the history of
salvation, at whose center is the word: "God loves his people." In
biblical revelation is above all the _expression of a history of love,
the history of God's covenant with men. For this reason, God has been
to assume the history of love and of the union of a man and a woman in
the covenant of marriage, as symbol of the history of salvation. The
fact, the mystery of God's love for men, takes its linguistic form from
the vocabulary of marriage and the family, both positive and negative:
God's approach to his people is presented with the language of conjugal
love, while Israel's infidelity, its idolatry, is designated as
In the New Testament,
God radicalizes his love until
becomes himself, through his Son, flesh of our flesh, authentic man.
God's union with man has assumed its supreme, irreversible and
form. And in this way, the definitive form of human love is also drawn,
that reciprocal "yes" that cannot be revoked. It does not alienate man,
but liberates him from the alienations of history to return him to the
truth of creation. The sacramental character that marriage assumes in
means, therefore, that the gift of creation has been raised to the
of redemption. Christ's grace is not superimposed from outside of man's
nature, it does not violate it, but liberates and restores it, by
it beyond its frontiers. And just as the Incarnation of the Son of God
reveals its true meaning in the cross, so also authentic human love is
surrender of oneself; it cannot exist if it avoids the cross.
Dear Brothers and
Sisters, this profound bond
God and man, between the love of God and human love, is also confirmed
by some negative tendencies and developments, whose weight we all
The degradation of human love, the suppression of the authentic
to love appears in our time as the most effective weapon for man to
God, to remove God from man's sight and heart. However, the desire to
God's nature makes one lose sight of the very reality of nature,
man's nature, reducing it to an ensemble of functions, which can be
of according to one's pleasure to build a so-called better world and a
happier humanity. But on the contrary, the plan of the Creator is
as is the truth of our nature.
Also in the procreation
of children, marriage
its divine model, the love of God for man. In man and woman, paternity
and maternity, as happens with the body and with love, the biological
is not circumscribed: life is only given totally when with birth, love
and meaning are also given, which make it possible to say yes to this
Precisely because of this, it is clear to what point the systematic
of the union itself to the gift of life and, even more, the suppression
or manipulation of unborn life is contrary to human love, to the
vocation of man and woman.
However, no man and no woman, on their own and by their
own strength, can give love and the meaning of life adequately to their
children. To be able to say to someone: "your life is good, even if I
know your future," needs a superior authority and credibility which the
individual cannot give himself on his own. The Christian knows that
authority is conferred to that larger family that God, through his Son,
Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, has created in the
of men, namely, to the Church. It acknowledges the action of that
and indestructible love that assures to the life of each one of us a
meaning, even if we do not know the future.
For this reason, the
building of each of the
families is framed in the context of the great family of the Church,
supports and accompanies it, and guarantees that there is a meaning and
that in the future there will be the "yes" of the Creator. And,
the Church is built by families, "small domestic Churches," as Vatican
Council II called them ("Lumen Gentium," 11; "Apostolicam
11), rediscovering an ancient patristic _expression (St. John
"In Genesim serm," VI,2; VII,1). In this connection, "Familiaris
affirms that "Christian marriage ... constitutes the natural place
which is carried out the insertion of the human person in the great
of the Church" (No. 15).
Family and Church
An obvious consequence
derives from all of this: the
and the Church, specifically the parishes and the other forms of
community, are called to the most profound collaboration in that
task that is constituted, inseparably, by the formation of the person
the transmission of the faith. We know well that for an authentic
endeavor to take place, it is not enough to communicate a correct
or doctrine. Something far greater and more human is needed -- that
lived daily, which is proper to love and that finds its most propitious
space above all in the family community, and afterwards in a parish or
movement or ecclesial association, in which people are found who pay
to their brothers, in particular, to children and youths, as well as to
adults, the elderly, the sick, and families themselves because, in
they love them. The great patron of educators, St. John Bosco, reminded
his spiritual sons that "education is something of the heart and that
alone is its proprietor" ("Epistolario," 4, 209).
The figure of the
witness is central in the
endeavor, and especially in education in the faith, which is the summit
of the person's formation and his most appropriate horizon: the witness
becomes a point of reference precisely in the measure in which he is
to defend the hope that is the basis of his life (see 1 Peter 3:15),
in the measure that the witness is personally involved with the truth
proposes. The witness, moreover, does not point to himself, but points
to something, or rather to someone greater, whom he has encountered and
experienced as trustworthy goodness. Thus, every educator and witness
an unsurpassable model in Jesus Christ, the great witness of the
who said nothing on his own, but spoke exactly as the Father had taught
him (see John 8:28).
This is the reason why
at the basis of the Christian
formation and of the transmission of the faith is necessarily prayer,
friendship with Christ and contemplation in him of the Father's face.
the same may be said of all our missionary commitment, in particular,
family pastoral program: may the Family of Nazareth be, therefore, for
our families and communities the object of constant and confident
as well as model of life.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, and especially you, dear
I am aware of the generosity and selflessness with which you serve the
Lord and his Church. Your daily work for the formation in the faith of
new generations, in profound union with the sacraments of Christian
as well as by preparation for marriage and support of families on their
journey, which is often not easy, in particular the great task of the
of children, is the fundamental way to always regenerate the Church
and also to vivify the social fabric of our beloved city of Rome.
Threat of relativism
without allowing yourselves to
discouraged by the difficulties you meet. The educational relationship
is, by its very nature, something delicate: it implies the other's
who, even with gentleness, is forced to make a decision. Neither
nor priests, nor catechists, nor other educators can substitute the
of the child, the boy, the youth whom they direct. And the Christian
interpolates freedom very profoundly, calling it to faith and
A particularly insidious obstacle in the educational endeavor today is
the massive presence in our society and culture of a relativism that,
not acknowledging anything as definitive, only has as its ultimate
the "I" itself, with its tastes and which, with the appearance of
becomes for each one a prison, as it separates from others, making each
one find himself shut in within his own "I." In such a relativist
therefore, an authentic education is not possible. Without the light of
truth, sooner or later every person is condemned to doubt the goodness
of his own life and the relationships that constitute it, the validity
of his commitment to build with others something in common.
It is clear, therefore,
that not only must we try to
the relativism in our work of formation of persons, but we are also
to confront its destructive dominance in society and culture. For this
reason, it is very important that, in addition to the word of the
the testimony and public commitment of Christian families is given, in
particular, to reaffirm the inviolability of human life from conception
to its natural end, the unique and irreplaceable value of the family
on marriage and the need for legislative and administrative measures
support families in the task of begetting and educating children,
task for our common future. For this commitment of yours I also give
my heartfelt thanks.
The last message I
would like to leave with you
attention to vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life. We
know the need the Church has! For these vocations to be born and to
for the persons called to keep themselves always worthy of their
prayer is, above all, decisive; it must never be lacking in each of the
families and in the Christian community. But also fundamental is the
of life of priests, men and women religious, the joy they express for
been called by the Lord. And, essential likewise is the example that
receive within their own family and the families' conviction that the
vocations are also for them a great gift of the Lord. The option for
for love of God and of brothers, which is required for the priesthood
consecrated life, is accompanied by the appreciation of Christian
one and the other, with two different and complementary forms, make
in a certain sense the mystery of the covenant between God and his
Dear Brothers and
Sisters, I commend these
to you as a contribution to your work in the evenings of the congress
later during the next pastoral year. I pray that the Lord will give you
courage and enthusiasm so that our Church of Rome, every parish, every
religious community, association or movement will participate intensely
in the joy and effort of the mission and in this way every family and
whole Christian community will rediscover in the love of the Lord the
that opens the door of hearts and that makes possible an authentic
in the faith and in the formation of persons. My affection and blessing
accompany you today and in the future.
Comment on the above
address by Benedict XVI:
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) --
Pope Benedict XVI has once
weighed in on pro-life and family issues in a way that offers clues to
the style and substance of his still-young papacy.
To judge by media
reports, the pope's talk June 6 to
Diocese of Rome was no less than a declaration of war against gay
abortion and birth control. Newspapers plucked out phrases like
and "pseudo-marriages" for some zinger headlines.
But that's one of the
problems with Pope Benedict:
his well-reasoned discourses don't break down easily into sound bites
As one veteran wire
service reporter recently
in the Vatican press office, the new pope is hard to write about
short citations don't do justice to his complex arguments. You can't
That was especially
true when the pope spoke about
family to a packed Basilica of St. John Lateran. His 3,000-word speech
was a seminar, not a tirade.
It began with an
explanation of the "anthropological
of the family and moved on to outline three sets of connections that
the family meaning: the relationship between God and man, between the
and the spirit, and between personal freedom and the concept of
relationships are forgotten, he said, the
is a false idea of freedom -- an "anarchic freedom" -- that gives rise
to various forms of marriage dissolution, such as cohabitation, 'trial'
marriage and gay marriage.
He said the idea that
freedom is simply the right to
what one wants with oneself" ends up trivializing the human being and
the human body a secondary instrument of pleasure.
The pope also
underlined the idea that the promises
in marriage have always had a public aspect, making it a core social
The generation of children in marriage flows from the natural desire
just to produce babies but also to give them the love provided by a
Benedict said little about
church teachings on these issues. His goal was not to insist on
doctrine, but to convince with arguments that have inspired the
-- no doubt realizing that his audience was the wider society as well
the diocesan leaders sitting in front of him.
The lengthy text was so
rich that one archbishop,
it carefully the next day, remarked the pope had given "a theology
on the family." It was a challenging talk even for pastoral experts.
"Everyone who listened
had the impression that this
a text we had to go back and read again," said Luca Pasquale, who helps
run the Diocese of Rome's Family Pastoral Center.
Some in his audience
noted that Pope Benedict did
mention the many everyday problems faced by families in Rome, including
housing, unemployment, inflation, child rearing or internal family
There was a reason for that, Pasquale said.
"He knows that without
understanding the foundations
the family, any discussion of everyday problems can be superficial,"
"The pope was
connecting the family to the
plan for creation, and this is a very important point. Our people need
to know that the family is not a sociological category that could be
tomorrow," Pasquale said.
It was the fourth time
since his election that the
has delivered a major talk or sermon at the Lateran basilica, which is
located across the city from the Vatican. In comparison, he has
only once at an event in St. Peter's Basilica.
Catholics in Rome think
that's significant. The
basilica is the seat of the pope's diocese, and Pope Benedict has given
every indication that he takes his role as bishop of Rome very
But that doesn't
necessarily mean getting into the
political trenches. Noticeably absent from the pope's talk was any
to the realpolitik decisions faced by Catholics as they respond to
and other initiatives on gay marriage, domestic partnership benefits,
or embryonic manipulation.
These are issues that
are swirling around Rome,
and the world. The day before the pope's talk, voters in Switzerland
a law that grants gay couples greater rights. Spain's national assembly
gave preliminary approval to a law legalizing gay marriage in April.
Italians were voting on
a referendum June 12-13 that
repeal some restrictions on artificial reproduction and embryonic
Italian bishops have urged Catholics to boycott the vote to help
it -- a controversial strategy, even among Catholics.
In late May, Pope
Benedict spoke about the
but in very general terms. He praised Italy's bishops for "working to
and inspire" Catholic voters, and also said he trusted in the Holy
to influence the "consciences and hearts" of people.
He didn't mention the
boycott strategy. He
principles without issuing political directives.
U.S. Archbishop William
J. Levada, the newly
head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, paid close
to the pope's remarks on the Italian vote. He said he thought the
was wisely leaving it to local church leaders to take the lead on local
"I thought to myself,
that's helpful. He's
but he's saying primarily it's the responsibility of the bishops of
country," Archbishop Levada said.