Vatican Urges Europe Toward Solidarity

Cardinal Bertone Promotes Family-Friendly Policies

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See calls on Europe to increase solidarity with the rest of the world, especially with Africa and the Holy Land, affirmed the Pope's secretary of state.



Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone stated this Tuesday during his address to ambassadors representing countries of the European Union before the Holy See.

He dedicated these words to the envoys during a meeting in the Embassy of the Czech Republic, an event that marked the inauguration of this country's six-month presidency of the union.

The cardinal underlined two moral issues that Europe must confront today: faced to the outside world, a greater solidarity toward the most disadvantaged nations, especially in Africa and the Holy Land, and on an internal level, a more determined stance to defend the family.
 
Cardinal Bertone devoted considerable attention to Africa, the continent that will be the upcoming center of pastoral attention for the Church, with a Papal visit scheduled in March and the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops to take place in Rome in October.

The cardinal recalled the diplomatic efforts that the Church has made in favor of African countries, especially in "terms of their fundamental rights." He affirmed that "the African [nation's] right to development is based on their membership in the human family, [having] one same dignity and destiny as the rich countries."

"European countries must overcome the temptation to establish contact with African countries with the sole objective of getting the greatest possible profit out of them," he said.

The secretary of state called for a greater effort to promote reconciliation in the continent, "helping to solve the ongoing conflicts, to fight the injustices that have resulted, and to aid the masses of fugitives and refugees who suffer and destabilize the continent."

Concerning the situation in the Holy Land, Cardinal Bertone spoke of the need to act with urgency in the Gaza Strip situation, and to help the Middle Eastern peoples to continue the "difficult path" of reconciliation.

He asserted: "War and hatred are not the solution of the problems: To some this appears to be a utopian phrase, but it is actually a truth confirmed by the recent history of the Holy Land."
 
To reach a lasting peace, said the cardinal, it is necessary to take into account "the broader picture of the Middle East, and therefore, a global approach to the difficulties of the countries in that region, respecting their legitimate aspirations and interests."
 
Stable marriages

Regarding the internal situation in Europe, Cardinal Bertone stressed the importance of strengthening the family institution with appropriate policies.

Therefore, he called on political and economic institutions to "reexamine the hedonistic and consumerist lifestyles, to support life and the family with decisive action on various fronts."

The cardinal said: "The Holy See does not tire of reminding the countries of the union that, in order to have stable and cohesive societies, stable families are needed and these, in turn, need stable marriages. However, between 1998 and 2006 in Europe the number of marriages has fallen, [and] in 2006 there was a divorce every 30 seconds."
 
The cardinal affirmed that "the stable and lasting male-female couple" offers "more social benefits than unmarried couples or single parent households."
 
He added that children of a married couple have "a greater chance of good education, less truancy, delinquency, use of alcohol or drugs," and besides, the stable marriage "causes more psychological balance for children and the parents themselves."
 
The cardinal concluded, "Therefore it is of public interest that the family is founded on marriage and that be healthy."