.- On Monday evening, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a landmark conference on life and family, in which he strongly emphasized the reasons why the Catholic Church supports the life of the unborn and marriage as between one man and one woman, while strongly criticizing relativism. The Pope delivered his long, highly articulate speech at the Roman Basilica of St. John Lateran during the inauguration of a Conference promoted by the Diocese of Rome on the theme, âThe Family and the Christian Community: Formation of the Person and Transmission of the Faith.â
The Pontiff offered some reflections on âthe meaning of marriage and the family in the plan of God, Creator and Savior.â
Speaking about the natural foundation of the Family, the Pope said, "The human being has been created in the image and likeness of God and God Himself is Love. Thus, the vocation to love is what makes man the authentic image of God.â
âFrom this basic link between God and man comes another: the indissoluble link between spirit and body," he explained. "The totality of man," he continued, "includes the dimension of time and man's 'yes' ... means 'always', it is the space of fidelity. Only within it can one grow in faith."
He added that "the greatest expression of freedom ... is the capacity to choose a definitive gift in which freedom, giving of itself, fully finds itself. Concretely, the personal and reciprocal 'yes' between a man and a woman ... is destined to the gift of a new life" and it is also a "public 'yes' with which the spouses take on the public responsibility of fidelity."
Benedict XVI underscored that "the various forms of dissolving marriages today, as well as free unions and 'trial marriages', including pseudo-marriage between people of the same sex, are, rather, expressions of an anarchical freedom, which passes itself off, wrongly, as the true liberation of man. Such pseudo-freedom is based on making the body banal, which inevitably includes making man banal."
Marriage in the History of Salvation
The Pope then recalled that "biblical revelation, in fact, is above all the expression of a story of love, the story of the covenant of God with man; therefore the story of the love and union between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage was able to be assumed by God as a symbol of the history of salvation."
"In the same way that the Incarnation of the Son of God reveals its true meaning in the cross, authentic human love is the giving of oneself and cannot exist if a person wishes to rid himself of the cross," he added.
The Holy Father underscored several negative tendencies that are in opposition to "the profound link between God and man, between God's love and human love. ... In fact, the lack of appreciation of human love, the suppression of the authentic capacity to love is revealed in our times as the most adept and efficacious weapon for removing God from man, for distancing Him from man's gaze and from his heart."
Children and abortion
Pope Benedict explained later that children are not a ârightâ or a âpossession,â but a gift from God. "Even in generating children,â he explained, âmarriage reflects its divine model, the love of God for man.â It is "contrary to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, systematically to close one's union to the gift of life, and still more so to suppress or alter the life of the unborn," he added.
âFor this reason the building of every single Christian family is placed within the larger context of the great family of the Church, which sustains it and bears it within itself."
The Threat of Relativism
The Holy Father saved his final words to tackle the threat of relativism. "Today an especially insidious obstacle to the work of education is the massive presence, in our society and culture, of a relativism which, while recognizing nothing as definitive, establishes as a final measure only one's âMe,â with one's own desires and which, under the appearance of freedom, becomes for each person a prison,â he said.
âWithin such a relativistic horizon, âhe warned, âit is not possible to have a true education: without the light of truth, sooner or later every person is in fact condemned to doubt the goodness of his own life and the relationships that comprise it, to doubt the validity of his commitment to build, with others, something in common.â
âIt is therefore clear that not only must we seek to overcome relativism in our work of forming people, but we are also called to fight its predominant place in society and culture," he concluded.