A report examining Pope Benedict XVI’s writings on marriage has just been released.“Pope Benedict XVI on Marriage: A Compendium,” has been published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and released on the eve of Pope Benedict’s first papal visit to the United States.
The compendium collects and analyzes the Pope’s public remarks about marriage over the first three years of his pontificate. According to the analysis, the Pope has spoken publicly about marriage on 111 occasions, often connecting marriage to wider themes such as human rights, world peace, and the dialogue between faith and reason.
He has called the family the “fundamental nucleus of society” and the “primary agency of peace,” while urging people to end the “growing crisis of the family.”
"Over and over again he has made it clear that the marriage and family debate is central--not peripheral--to understanding the human person, and defending our human dignity," said Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.
The report cites many instances where the Pope has spoken on marriage.
On September 27, 2007, Pope Benedict addressed participants in a conference of the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International. In his address, he connected the crisis of the family to philosophical skepticism:
“There are those who maintain that human reason is incapable of grasping the truth, and therefore of pursuing the good that corresponds to personal dignity. There are some who believe that it is legitimate to destroy human life in its earliest or final stages. Equally troubling is the growing crisis of the family, which is the fundamental nucleus of society based on the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Experience has shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence.”
Pope Benedict also devoted a large part of his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1 to examining the role of marriage in developing a culture of peace and openness to life, saying:
“Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.”
“This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.”
When receiving the credentials of the new U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Pope Benedict connected American efforts to safeguard marriage and the family to what he called “the American people’s historic appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public discourse and in shedding light on the inherent moral dimension of social issues.” This role, Pope Benedict said, was at times disputed “in the name of a straitened understanding of political life and public discourse.”
However, he thought the role religion played in American life reflected many Americans’ view of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a “positive force for peacemaking.”
Maggie Gallagher summarized the report’s interpretation of Pope Benedict’s writings on marriage, saying, "The short pontificate of Benedict XVI is already a standing rebuke to those voices of our time who seek to make us ashamed or embarrassed of caring about marriage and sexual issues, who try to get us to view the contemporary marriage debate as merely a distraction from more important issues."
"Pope Benedict clearly connects life and marriage, the human person in the human family, with the most fundamental international issues of peace and human rights facing our times."
The full report can be viewed at www.marriagedebate.com .