The President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia began his lecture on "The Family as a Resource for Society," at the meeting on "Family, Social Changes and New Forms of Poverty," on Friday, 2 October, at the University of Florence, by recalling the image of the families gathered in Philadelphia last week
"At the global level—he said—, the debate on the family is centered today on a basic question: the so-called natural family (whether nuclear, that is, constituted by the stable man-woman couple with their children, or extended, i.e. including close relatives in the home) is still a resource for the individual and for society, or if is it a remnant of the past that hinders the emancipation of individuals and the advent of a freer, egalitarian, and happy society? Of course, the family today is losing the protections of the past and now advances in the open sea of a society that is no longer favorable to it, but in the best cases indifferent. Individuals construct the family in the most diverse ways, and society encourages them to do so with the maximum variability. However, what are the consequences? And also: what should we do?"
The President of the Pontifical Council for the Family quoted a survey conducted in several countries (Italy, Poland, Brazil, Spain, USA, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile), which shows that "the family, whether nuclear (prevalent in the most modernized countries) or extended to close relatives (in developing countries), is society's primary resource and remains a vital source of those societies that are the bearers of the future. The reason for this is simple: the family is in fact the primary source of society's human, social and spiritual capital." There are in consequence a series of requirements, including putting "the family into the heart of the debate, into the visual center of politics and the economy itself and of the Church, not as a reality closed in on itself, rather as as driving force, so that it may go beyond itself." For the family, as "school of otherness," it is necessary to "recognize a new culture of rights:" "The time has come for the social subjects and institutions that claim to defend it to prove in practice that they truly care about a reality and not an idea. This means, on the one hand, recognizing the changed conditions in which the family now lives and with which it must deal on a daily basis; and, on the other hand, showing concretely the willingness to do all they can to support, assist and enrich it in its delicate and valuable social role. Many steps have to be taken, both in politics and in civil society as well as in the Church."