During the 26th Session of the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi affirmed that the family nourished by the marriage of one man and one woman offers a "dynamic energy" to society.

"Most people find unique protection, nurture, and dynamic energy from their membership in a strong and healthy family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman," the archbishop stated in a June 24 letter to the president of the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.

"Moreover, ample evidence has demonstrated that the best interest of the child is assured in a harmonious family environment in which the education and formation of children develop within the context of lived experience with both male and female parental role models."

According to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, delivered his letter to the president of the United Nations' Human Rights Council on the occasion of their 26th Session.

The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations, and is composed of 47 States who are responsible for the protection and promotion of every human right worldwide.

At the beginning of his letter the archbishop drew attention to the U.N.'s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, which took place May 15 under the theme "Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals."

Choosing such a theme, he noted, displays "a strong relationship to Resolution 2012/10, adopted by ECOSOC that stressed the need 'for undertaking concerted actions to strengthen family-centered policies and programs as part of an integrated, comprehensive approach to development.'"

Going on, the archbishop recognized the numerous debates currently surrounding "the nature and definition of the family."

"Such discussions often lead States to conclude that the family is more of a problem than a resource to society" he observed, drawing attention to the U.N.'s preparatory documents for the International Year of the Family, which explained that families are finding it harder to fulfill their responsibilities due to "rapid socio-economic and demographic transformations."

However in spite of the current challenges, Archbishop Tomasi said that the Holy See's human rights delegation firmly believes that "the family, in fact, is the fundamental unit of human society."

"It continually exhibits a vigor much greater than that of the many forces that have tried to eliminate it as a relic of the past, or an obstacle to the emancipation of the individual, or to the creation of a freer, egalitarian and happy society."

"The family and society, which are mutually linked by vital and organic bonds, have complementary functions in the defense and advancement of the good of every person and of humanity" he observed, affirming that "The dignity and rights of the individual are not diminished by the attention given to the family."

Calling the family the "fundamental cell of society where the generations meet, love, educate and support each other, and pass on the gift of life," the archbishop pointed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' recognition of the "unique, profound, and uncompromising rights and duties for the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman."

This belief, he said, is evident in their declaration that "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family" and that "they are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution."

It can also be seen in the declaration's affirmation that "Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses," and that "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State."

Reiterating the Holy See's firm position that "the family is a whole and integral unit, which should not be divided or marginalized," Archbishop Tomasi stated that "The family and marriage need to be defended and promoted not only by the State but also by the whole of society."

"Both require the decisive commitment of every person because it is starting from the family and marriage that a complete answer can be given to the challenges of the present and the risks of the future."