VATICAN CITY, JUN 13, 2003 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received participants in the meeting of presidents of the European Episcopal Commissions for the Family and for Life who are reflecting on "The Challenges and Possibilities at the Beginning of the Third Millennium."
John Paul II affirmed that today "the identity of the family" is being threatened. When "the 'human' dimension in family life" is lost, he said, "the anthropological root of the family as a communion of persons is put into question" and "alternative falsehoods crop up that do not recognize the family as a precious and necessary good for the social fabric."
"In the Europe of our times," he continued, "the institution of the family suffers from a disconcerting fragility." However, he added, "so many Christian families offer consoling social and ecclesial testimony: they live this reciprocal gift of conjugal and family love in an admirable way, overcoming difficulties and adversity. It is precisely from this total self-giving that the couple's happiness comes, when they stay faithful to conjugal love till death and when they are faithfully open to the gift of life."
The Pope indicated that in modern European societies, "mentalities are spreading that are favorable to divorce, contraception and abortion, denying in fact the genuine sentiment of love and attacking human life, not recognizing human beings' full right to life."
Despite these attacks on the family and life, he said, "Thank God there are many families that are faithful to their Christian and human vocation in spite of difficulties. ... Movements that promote the family and life are growing; they consolidate and constitute a new social conscience. Yes, countless are the resources of the family!"
The Holy Father renewed his invitation "to leaders of peoples and legislators to fully assume their commitments in defense of life so that they promote a culture of life." This year is the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Charter of the Rights of the Family, promulgated by the Holy See. He concluded: "I hope that this important document continues to be a valid aid and guide to those who have social and political duties and responsibilities."
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