Future of Democracy Hinges on the Family, Vatican Says at U.N.

Urges Policies That Aid the "First Cell of Society"

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NEW YORK, FEB. 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- An indispensable way to ensure the future of democracy lies in promoting policies that assist the family, the Holy See told the United Nations.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, made that point in an address Friday for the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family. He delivered the address during a session of the Social Development Committee.

"My delegation considers that the family should play a primordial and central role in the promotion of a healthy society," as "the family is the first place of social integration, as it is the first cell of society and its foundation," the archbishop explained.

He stated categorically that "for the Holy See, the family is a natural institution based on marriage -- the intimate and complementary union of a man and woman -- that, as such, possesses its own inalienable rights."

The archbishop mentioned the U.N. report on the social situation of the world in 2003, which attributes to family disintegration a good part of the problems suffered today by youth, especially delinquency.

Referring to the Holy See's pro-family policies, the archbishop said: "My delegation is convinced that these policies constitute the ethical and concrete manner of solving crises in societies and guaranteeing a better future for democracy."

"The promotion and assistance to the family within society can contribute and will certainly contribute to improve the efficiency of the public sector and to ensure in this way the progress of social development," he added.

The archbishop explained that these policies must be guided by two principles: subsidiarity -- "the state cannot and must not take away from families the functions that they can just as well perform on their own or in free associations" -- and solidarity -- "a duty of justice."

"In the light of these two principles," he said, "legislation in favor of the family can respect the right of the latter to benefit from social measures that take its needs into consideration, in particular, when the family has to bear additional burdens due to old age, physical or psychic disabilities of its members, or the education of children."

"Today more than ever, the family has need of special protection on the part of public authorities. States have the responsibility to defend the sovereignty of the family, as the latter constitutes the fundamental nucleus of the social structure," the Holy See permanent observer said. "Finally, defending the sovereignty of the family contributes to the sovereignty of nations."