Family Lexicon Published in Russian

Dictionary Targets Confusion on Life, Marriage Terms

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MOSCOW, Russia, AUG. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Russian-language speakers will now have access to the Vatican's concise definitions of family and life-related terminology, after a recent publication by the Conventual Franciscans in Moscow.



L'Osservatore Romano reported last week that this terminological dictionary from the Pontifical Council for the Family is now available in eight languages: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Arabic, German and Russian.

The council's president, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, wrote in the lexicon's introduction that this publication will help and "update readers on the principal questions at the heart of the cultural, ethical and social debate on the family and on human life."

The dictionary is comprised of 103 entries and 1,066 pages of commentaries.

A first copy of the translated lexicon was presented to the cardinal by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio to Russia.

The archbishop stated that Russia feels "very deeply" the "problem of the crisis of the family institution and of the urgent need to contribute to the rediscovery of the values of the person and the family."

"I therefore think this book could be a very useful instrument in the social and cultural context of this country," he said.

Cardinal Antonelli affirmed this statement in his written introduction: "I am very glad that this valuable reference book will be available in Russia, a magnificent country with deep Christian roots and an important cultural tradition."

He stated that this work is "an instrument for reflection and an encouragement always to seek the truth about the human being, life and the family."

The prelate noted that family and life issues involve the entire society, not just the Church.

He affirmed, "Faith helps us to deepen our knowledge and to shed more light on the values of the family and of life, but these topics are in themselves subjects of rational reflection and of fruitful dialogue with all people of good will, to guarantee a future worthy of man."

Cardinal Antonelli explained that this lexicon aims to guide the reader "through the maze of legislation that exists today in various countries of the world."

Making repairs

The publication notes that the family situation and its governance vary according to the country and its laws.

In particular, the cardinal underlines those States that developed laws under totalitarian or atheistic governance, influenced by ideologies that threatened the family situation.

Although the ideologies of these regimes may have collapsed, he continued, "it appears difficult to repair what has been attacked and undermined for decades."

The prelate asserted that although modern times are "rich in scientific discoveries and new possibilities for man in the various fields of communications, the sciences, technology, the economy and democracy," there is a "great conceptual confusion."

This is coupled with "the ambiguity and questionableness of certain affirmations on morality and the education of the new generations," he added.

Cardinal Antonelli explained that "at times the distinction between 'good and evil' is confused and replaced with the distinction between 'what is useful to me and what is not' in such a way that what is pleasing to one person or pleasing in a specific circumstance is no longer so for another person or in different circumstances."

He added, "An effort is being made to accustom people to ethical relativism," and thus it is necessary to be prepared to preserve and promote the "natural family" as willed by the Creator, founded on marriage between a man and a woman and open to life.

The lexicon provides an analysis of the fundamental concepts of natural and divine law regarding the family, marriage and life.

It also explains how certain terms, if used erroneously, can become ambiguous and give rise to confusion.

Cardinal Antonelli affirmed that the Church offers this lexicon not to impose a particular viewpoint in the civil or political context, but rather to suggest a "reasonable reflection, to help to build a human civilization based on truth, on love and on respect for the person, for human life, and for the fundamental cell of society which is the family."