By Robin Gomes
The Holy See is calling for the promotion of the family as the “fundamental and basic unit of all societies”, saying its defence needs to be sustained for the common good of our world community.
“The family, after all, is, in many ways, the first school of how to be human and at the same time the family is the centre and the heart of what Paul VI called ‘the civilization of love’,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, on Tuesday.
He was addressing an interreligious conference on families organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in view of the May 15 UN International Day of Families.
Family for peaceful civilization
The archbishop expressed concern that “today, too little attention is given to the importance and to the potential of fruitful interchange between generations and to family values.” Individualism appears at odds with the family as a community of persons, and as the initial social unit, he said.
Asserting that “the family remains always the cell of society, and the primary place of education,” the Vatican diplomat noted that the family’s “fundamental role for a peaceful civilization finds itself increasingly challenged”. However, the fact that families continue to remarkably witness to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family, is a balm of true fraternity that is so much needed in today’s world.
Weakening generation bonds
Archbishop Jurkovic pointed out that harsh difficulties such as economic crisis and poverty make it difficult for families to maintain intergenerational bonds as in the past. “The lack of family ties and solidarity nourished by altruism and forgiveness” could lead to dramatic situations.
“As family ties break down,” he said, “millions of children and youth are left without the proper and necessary guidance and are increasingly exposed to risks such as dropping out of school, forced labour, and sexual exploitation.”
Synod - School of humanity
He pointed out that the Synod on the Family, in 2014 and 2015, underscored the centrality of the family as the true “school of humanity” which is much needed today. In fact, he said, it is in the family that a person learns endurance, the joy of work, fraternal love, and generosity in forgiving others and, above all, the offering of one’s life at the service of the others.
Hence the desire to marry and form a family needs to be strengthened in order that its fundamental role for society may be rediscovered.
As the UN this year marks the 30th anniversary of its Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 25th anniversary of the 1994 International Year of the Family, Arch Jurkovic urged for greater cooperation and concerted actions to strengthen family-centered policies and programmes.