Pope Benedict XVI called upon the international community today to protect the family at all costs because it is “the first and indispensable teacher of peace.” He also insisted that whoever undermines the family, attacks peace in the entire community.
The Holy Father’s message was made public in preparation for the upcoming 41st World Day of Peace, which will be celebrated on January 1, 2008.
Before launching into his explanation of why the family must be protected, the Pope defined the family saying that it is “’a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order'."
Benedict XVI insisted that, "the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace," and it is also, "the foundation of society ... because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family," the Pope emphasized.
Referencing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Pope Benedict reminded everyone that the family is entitled to protection from society and the State.
“Consequently,” the Pope said, "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.”
The Holy Father also stressed that “[e]verything 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."
While some people live with the attitude that mankind lives alongside one another purely by chance, the Pope explained that the Christian worldview is one in which society is “progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters.” Without the family, Benedict said, “society is a mere aggregation of neighbors, not a community of brothers and sisters called to form one great family."
Needs of the Family Must be Protected
The earth is the home of the human family, says the Holy Father, highlighting the need "to care for the environment" which "has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion.”
The Pope was careful to explain that, contrary to the attitude of some environmentalists, “[h]uman beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-a-vis creation as a whole.” “Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man," the Holy Father said.
Out of concern for those countries that struggle to afford protecting the environment, Pope Benedict said, “[i]f the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations."
Critiquing unbridled capitalism, the Holy Father said that “the moral obligation to ensure that the economy is not governed solely by the ruthless laws of instant profit,” must be noted.
Natural Law Must Become the International Norm
Benedict XVI writes: "A family lives in peace if all its members submit to a common standard: this is what prevents selfish individualism and brings individuals together, fostering their harmonious coexistence and giving direction to their work. ... For the sake of peace, a common law is needed, one which would foster true freedom rather than blind caprice, and protect the weak from oppression by the strong. ... Power must always be disciplined by law, and this applies also to relations between sovereign States."
This law, the Pope suggested, should be “the moral norm grounded in nature itself." He also insisted that knowledge of this natural moral norm is possible if men strive to reflect on the “deepest inclinations present in their being.”
Pope Benedict XVI explained that in the increasingly globalized society of today, establishing an international moral law depends on “a constant commitment to strengthen the profound human content of international norms, lest they be reduced to mere procedures, easily subject to manipulation for selfish or ideological reasons."
We Must Respond to Difficult Times
"Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future," the Pope observed.
In this context, the Pope underlined how "the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension," while in Africa there are still "many civil wars" and "the Middle East is still a theatre of conflict and violence, which also affects neighboring nations and regions and risks drawing them into the spiral of violence. On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of States engaged in the arms race."
"In difficult times such as these…At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons," Benedict XVI exhorted.
Pope Benedict concluded his message by recalling three special anniversaries: "Sixty years ago the United Nations Organization solemnly issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ... This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Holy See's adoption of the Charter of the Rights of the Family and the 40th anniversary of the celebration of the first World Day of Peace."
"In the light of these significant anniversaries, I invite every man and woman to have a more lively sense of belonging to the one human family, and to strive to make human coexistence increasingly reflect this conviction, which is essential for the establishment of true and lasting peace. I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace," the Holy Father said.