Friday, December 28, 2007

Journalists urged to look to Bethlehem

Catholic journalists specialising in themes of life and family should delve into the significance of Bethlehem, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo proposed this at a meeting of Italian Catholic newspaper directors who report on issues of family and life. The meeting was sponsored by that Vatican dicastery last week.

The choice of the date for the meeting, so close to Christmas, wrote the cardinal in a message to those who were present, calls to mind "the logic of the tenderness of God."

"To relive the meaning of Bethlehem," he added, is a task that belongs to everyone "with a complete happiness that only the understanding of the merciful God can assure."

As the traditional understanding of family is challenged, the cardinal said an urgent question must be asked: "Is it possible to rescue families from a crisis that affects so many?"

Cardinal López Trujillo proposed two ways to clarify the role and mission of the family: first the "effort to present positively the Gospel of the family and of life," emphasizing that the institution of marriage is a project of God; and second, a "dialogue about identity."

"One cannot cease seeking answers to so many questions," he affirmed. "We cannot surrender quietly to a fabricated hostility that opens the paths to relativism."

The Vatican official said that "the various objections presented against the truth of the family" should be considered and answered with arguments favouring "the common good of the person in society."

The importance of the contribution of Christians to the current debate about the family and other themes was emphasized by Conventual Franciscan Father Gianfranco Grieco, an official at the Pontifical Council for the Family.

In his address, the priest underlined concern about the "demographic winter," above all in Europe.

"The aging of the population and the low birthrate will bring an increase in public expenses and a decrease in productivity," Fr Grieco stated. "The strong and massive migratory ebb and flow, in themselves, will not be a solution if not accompanied by solid integration policies."

The demographic question, he indicated, "demands a policy with long-range thinking," and contended that the European Union should propose a pact in favor of the family, "heart of the society and image of the bond of God with mankind."

Together with the demographic problem, Fr Grieco underlined issues such as "new ways of understanding marriage, human love and sexuality in an essentially subjective perspective," as well as ongoing bioethical challenges.

Various nations' adaptation of laws based on these new concepts has been done "rapidly, without sufficient in-depth analysis," Father Grieco said.

He denounced "a kind of anesthetizing of consciences that leads to thinking that any behavior that gives pleasure and results in comfort is necessarily good," and leads to the belief that "what is legal must be morally good."

In this context, the priest added, "the criterion of good therefore is not truly objective and each one creates his own truth. [...] We are faced with a truth battle. The secularists know what they want and have weapons and allies in this great battle."

"Should we merely defend ourselves? Should we raise our voices?" he asked.

We must "do what corresponds to us," Father Grieco affirmed. If not, "there are others who will take our legitimate places. [...] We Christians have to respond with fidelity to the Gospel of life and to the social doctrine of the Church."


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