Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, offered this reflection when he spoke with L'Osservatore Romano about the Pope's trip last weekend to Croatia.
The spokesman affirmed the trip was "a great success," and noted that a "profound, continuous, solid relationship between the Holy See and the Croatian people was 'breathed' there."
Father Lombardi stressed that the Pontiff's teaching in Croatia reaches to a broader public, as Benedict XVI himself occasionally specified.
"And certainly the address to the world of culture, to the society in general, touched on classic points of the Holy Father's magisterium," the Jesuit noted.
He said that in that address a reference "seemed to me quite original."
"He tied this address closely to families," Father Lombardi explained, "that is, at a certain point the Pope said: Where is the place where man's conscience is formed, a conscience inspired in objective values, a conscience as the place of dialogue for the search of the truth and the good? It is formed throughout the whole history of a person's life, beginning with his infancy, his way of playing, his way of amusing himself and of entering into relationship, his relationship with the friends around him. Hence, formation of the conscience to the true and the good, to coexistence in positive dialogue with others, is something that accompanies the whole of life and, in particular, the family environment, which is truly where the profound bases of the personality are laid."
In fact, Benedict XVI stated, "It is by forming consciences that the Church makes her most specific and valuable contribution to society. It is a contribution that begins in the family and is strongly reinforced in the parish."
Father Lombardi said the Pope's teaching on families is an attempt to "propose the beauty, the grandeur, the profundity of the ideal of the Christian vision of the family."
This vision, the spokesman explained, supported by spirituality and the sacrament of marriage, is a vision of family life lived well: "in joy, in fruitfulness, in constructiveness."
"When the Pope, as in Zagreb, highlights the risks [to families] and gives admonitions, this is not to engage in controversy," Father Lombardi said, "but to make it understood how the profound, positive Christian vision of the family founded on love and also leaning on the love of Christ, can make a contribution that serves to 'save' the most beautiful values of the family for the whole of human society."