In the vast program of the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, under the title “The Courage of Hope”, hosted in recent days by the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome, the President of the Pontifical Council, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia took part in a panel discussion of one of more than 50 such panel discussions planned, on the theme: “The Imperative Need of Family.”
The meeting was moderated by Marco Tarquinio, Director of Avvenire. The panel’s participants were: Msgr. Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Lille, France; the President of the Jewish Community of Rome, Riccardo Pacifici; the Director of the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in India, Rai Kumar Srivastava; the Vice-President of the Movement “Ennahdha” Abdelfattah Mourou, from Tunis; Senator Giampiero Dalla Zuanna; and the euro-parliamentarian Antonio Tajani.
«The family now finds itself in a paradoxical situation», Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia said. «On the one hand, great value is attributed to family ties, to the point that they are transformed into the key to happiness, while on the other hand we see that the marital breakups are becoming more frequent, to the point that one thinks that it’s impossible to imagine a family that goes on in time. The culture doesn’t support the family as a possible ideal. This is the cause of many of the problems seen in the crisis of marriage and the family». Indeed, «the ego prevails over the us and the individual over society and the family. Therefore, people prefer cohabitation to marriage, individual independence in the name of freedom to the mutual dependence in the name of responsible love. In a kind of reversal, one might say that the family, rather than being the “basic cell of society”, is considered the “basic cell of the individual”».
But, «this “dictatorship of individualism”— that destroys bonds, rights, duties and responsibilities — is not good for anyone; on the contrary, it digs depths of pain in those who separate themselves, move away, and enter into mutual conflict. This provokes pain, a lack of confidence and feelings of uncertainty that surround especially the most vulnerable members in families and in society. Precisely these people, the weakest, lead us to fully understand the ‘imperative need of family,’ which is one of the primary needs in the lives of human beings. Just think of the children and the elderly, the lonely and the sick, the disabled and the disadvantaged. With a family it’s easier to be accepted instead of being rejected, loved instead of abandoned, embraced instead of discarded. The civilization of a society is based on these distinctions».
During his intervention, the Archbishop said that «when contemporary culture promises the goal of the individual’s absolute autonomy, it is deceiving, because it promises a goal that is completely unreal and does not prepare humans to face the hardships and sacrifices that a real and lasting relationship between human beings requires».
At the end of the lecture, the President of the Pontifical Council renewed his invitation to consolidate the family. «The tie between “I” and “the others” are the two threads with which the fabric of the “we” is woven. Now, this weaving, for us Christians, starts between the church and the home».