“The Role of the Catholic Church in a process of European integration
” is the theme of the Conference sponsored annually in Krakow, by the Pontifical University John Paul II, in collaboration with the Robert Schuman Foundation, the Konrad Adenaur Foundation, the Group of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, the publishing house Wokol and the Commission of the Bishops of the European Community (Comece). The thirteenth edition will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 13th and 14th. The Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Msgr. Carlos Simon Vazquez, will represent the President of the Dicastery, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, on the theme: “Significance of the family from the perspective of Christianity
”. Don Andrea Ciucci will also be a member of the Dicastery’s delegation.
In contemporary culture, in the name of individualism and utilitarianism, «children are considered an obstacle to individual happiness and personal development», Msgr. Paglia says. While in the Bible it is said: that «It’s not good for man to be alone» (Gen 2:18), contemporary culture unceasingly declares in every situation: «It’s good to be alone». The question is whether this «privatization of life» that follows the «second individualistic revolution»(Gilles Lipovetsky)—which seems to take the form of a «tyranny of individuality», as the poet Tzvetan Todorov defines it, or that of an «egolatria», according to the definition of the sociologist Giuseppe De Rita—, really does bring happiness. Despite this cultural “hostility”, «the family still occupies the first place on the list of people’s wishes».
In Italy, almost 80 percent of young people of marriageable age say that they prefer marriage to cohabitation; in France, 77 percent of the young, from age 18 to 24, express their desire to form a family for life. In Poland, 85 percent of the respondents in social surveys say that they can’t imagine being happy without a family. The dream of the family is linked to a vision of the future. As John Paul II said, «the loss of the Christian memory is accompanied by a kind of fear of the future». The future is anticipated with fear rather than desire. As a result, the testimony and the value of the union of love until death also lose their attractiveness.
Of course, there is also the weight of the economic crisis and the difficulties families must face in daily life. Policies are needed to support and protect the family as «society’s primary cell» and «a resource of society», as it is defined in several documents prepared by the Pontifical Council for the Family. «The stability of family relationships is a valuable asset, when it suffers, and all the members are endangered». In particular, «the harmonious growth of the children and their positive socialization is at stake». Sociological studies have clearly shown that «divorce and also birth outside of marriage increase the risk of poverty for children and women». Moreover, «the natural family experiences the solidarity between the generations more often and more deeply than other forms of cohabitation. Children who live with their natural parents experience better psychological and physical well-being, and they develop greater confidence and hope in life than children living in other contexts». Therefore, there is an urgent need for policies that help the family, especially with regard to employment. «The family also constitutes an unequaled resource for the working world, in which it contributes more benefits than it receives».The family is also the «primary source of social capital, where the latter consists mainly of relationships of trust, cooperation and reciprocity that families build internally and externally». Above all, «the family is the primary school of love and gratitude, especially in relation to the weakest members». So, it is «the first instrument of a person’s humanization and social life».