VATICAN CITY — Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that “the family is the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation.”
The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17, at the opening of the three-day international, interfaith colloquium entitled “The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” currently under way in the Vatican.
Also referred to as the Humanum conference, the gathering is being sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
“To reflect upon ‘complementarity’ is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all creation,” he said. “All complementarities were made by our creator, so the author of harmony achieves this harmony.”
Complementarity, which is at the core of this gathering, “is a root of marriage and family,” the Pope said. “For the family grounded in marriage is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others’ gifts and where we begin to acquire the arts of cooperative living.”
Although the family often leads to tensions — “egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals” — it also provides “frameworks for resolving such tensions.”
Pope Francis warned against confusing complementarity with the notion that “all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern.” Rather, he said, “complementarity will take many forms, as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children — his or her personal richness, personal charisma.”
“Marriage and family are in crisis,” he said, with the “culture of the temporary” dissuading people from making the “public commitment” of marriage.
“This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but, in fact, it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”
Pope Francis noted the evidence pointing to the correlation between “the decline of marriage culture” and the increase of poverty and other “social ills.” It is women, children and elderly persons who suffer the most from this crisis, he said.
The Pope likened the crisis in the family to threats against the environment. Although there has been a growing awareness of ecological concerns, mankind has “been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture and also in our Catholic Church.”
“We must foster a new human ecology,” he said.
The Holy Father continued, stressing the importance of marriage in the raising of children.
“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” he said.
Pope Francis encouraged the participants in the colloquium to especially take account of young people. “Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but, rather, be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”
He also warned against being moved by political agendas.
Family is an anthropological fact, the Pope said, that cannot be qualified “based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history.”