Parents' Roles Complementary and Inseparable, Says Holy See

Cardinal López Trujillo Addresses a Conference on the Family

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DOHA, Qatar, DEC. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The family is the transformation into "we" of "the loving relationship between 'you' and 'I,' through procreation," a Vatican official told the International Conference on the Family.



Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, in his address on "The Complementarity of Men and Women -- Building on the Strengths of Mothers and Fathers,'' insisted that the roles of father and mother are "inseparable."

About 1,500 guests attended the conference Tuesday, among them Moza Bint Nasser Al-Missned, wife of the emir of Qatar and founder and president of Qatar's Supreme Council for Family Affairs, which is sponsoring the conference.

Cardinal López Trujillo, who is president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, began by noting that "one truth that is present in a profound way in all cultures and religions is that of the family based on marriage, the only worthy and appropriate place for conjugal love."

Such a love shows the couple's "complete, reciprocal self-giving," he said.

"A child, God's most precious gift, is the fruit of this mutual self-giving, and the spouses are associated with God, the source of human life, with their complete masculinity and femininity," the cardinal continued.

"The loving relationship between 'you' and 'I,' through procreation, becomes 'we,' a family," he said, according to the Vatican Information Service.

The cardinal continued: "Today an ideology hostile to the family is spreading in some parliaments not only in Europe, but in America too. ... In fact, in the past decade, the complementarity between a man and a woman and the overcoming of any opposition between the sexes have strangely been negated.

"The abuses deriving from a certain kind of 'male chauvinist' domination ... are not valid arguments for an exacerbated feminism that considers marriage and the family a place of slavery, and fatherhood and motherhood an unbearable burden that turns into fear."

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family insisted that it is "necessary to oppose 'polyform sexuality,'"

He said that de facto unions, "proposing same-sex unions as an alternative to marriage and inventing new, unacceptable notions of marriage to the point of accepting the adoption of children, are grave signs of dehumanization."

Opposing such unions "is not discrimination," the cardinal insisted. "This is protecting spouses and children."

Noting that spouses are "cooperators with the love of God the creator," the cardinal added that "responsible motherhood and fatherhood express a concrete commitment to carry out this duty, which has taken on new characteristics in the contemporary world. ... The roles of father and mother are complementary and inseparable; they presuppose that specific, interpersonal relations are established between the children and the parents."

The Vatican official continued: "Motherhood is closely tied to the personal structure of the human being and the personal dimension of the gift. A mother's contribution is decisive in laying the foundations of a new human personality. ... The father's role, which all too often is obscured, is of great importance in the formation of the children's personality and in the decisive choices that concern their future.

"This reciprocal influence of the father and the mother is manifested in the complementarity of the paternal and maternal roles in a child's upbringing."

"The family, a natural society, exists prior to the state, [or] any other political organization or juridical institution," Cardinal López Trujillo said. "Therefore, the originality and identity of the family based on marriage must be recognized by the political authorities.

"We are disturbed by the dramatic devaluation of motherhood in our societies. Motherhood is ... a life in the service of a vocation of the greatest importance for individual persons, for the family, and for the whole of society. ... Authentic family policies should take this into consideration."

In his concluding remarks, the pontifical council president explained that "in the state's protection of the family, the real interests of the state coincide with those of the family and children. It is in the family first of all where human capital is formed on all levels: that is, the wonderful resource that consists of a human person brought up with a sense of responsibility and a job well done.

"This is what Pope John Paul II states in the encyclical 'Centesimus Annus': 'The first and fundamental structure for 'human ecology' is the family, in which man receives his first formative ideas about truth and goodness.'"

Among the guests at the Doha Conference were Richard Wilkins, director of the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University in Utah, which was asked to organize the two-day event; Gary Becker, Nobel Prize-winning economist from the University of Chicago; members of governmental and non-governmental organizations; and scholars, academicians and civil and religious leaders, including Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church in Egypt.

The Doha Conference celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first International Year of the Family, by examining the statement in Article 16, No. 3, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state," and by reviewing worldwide policies on the family.