Speaking to a group of Catholic business people from Italy in Rome this week, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, highlighted the importance of a united family for raising children. He also touched on issues that affect the family today.
Under the theme of "Family and Business, Vital Cells of Society," Cardinal Antonelli spoke about the effects of the composition of the family on the future of children. The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano reported that Cardinal Antonelli put particular emphasis on the effects of a missing father figure on children.
The president of the Council for the Family cited statistics from the U.S., which he said illustrate a trend in many parts of the Western world. Ninety percent of homeless people, 72 percent of adolescent suicides, 60 percent of rapists and 85 percent of youth in jail grew up without a father present, he said.
The cardinal also listed a number of other negative effects on children whose parents don't remain together. These children are particularly susceptible, he stated, citing statistics that show these kids suffer from double the average number of pyschological, scholastic, social and work problems.
Among the major causes of this situation is the fact that both parents work outside of the home, he observed. "The self-realization sought by the woman in a job, in a career, in social success has as a cost the renouncement of the marriage and children."
Cardinal Antonelli expressed his concern for additional complications brought on by the ideology that says one can personally choose his or her gender, regardless of their biological sex. He also warned that the assertion of a "right" to gay marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples would lead to complications.
The traditional family, he said, is even being considered oppressive injustice, and matrimony and maternity are viewed as things from which a woman must liberate herself.
The population debate was also touched on by Cardinal Antonelli, who called for market reform and demographic equilibrium through responsible procreation as alternatives to methods such as abortion and contraception that are meant to decrease fertility, reduce population and increase economic wealth.
In countries that are deemed to be overpopulated, he offered that ethically honest and natural methods can be used to limit the birth rate. But, in countries where population is aging due to a lack of fertility, he said that there must be a re-evaluation of paternity and maternity, assisted by economic support.
To start a family, he stated, "you need reasonable economic security," and this climate should be provided for through "mechanisms of protection."