Cardinal Antonelli on John Paul II and the Family

Cardinal Antonelli with Frank Zammit
As the family goes, so the Church goes, and so goes human society in its totality.
—  BLESSED JOHN PAUL II 

At the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas numerous cardinals spoke about the profound influence on the Church of John Paul II the Great. Cardinal Antonelli gave a very informative talk on the family in the thought of Blessed John Paul II. Cadinal Antonelli was President of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 2008-2012. Professor Joseph Trabbic kindly provided the translation from the Italian. I will provide excerpts in some blog posts this week.

“Greetings with sentiments of respect, friendship, and joy to all of you who participate in this 12th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, in which intends to honor the memory of Blessed John Paul II.

This extraordinary man with his long and intense pontificate, left a deep mark on many spheres of the life of persons, the Church, and society. He was rightly given many titles: the pope of the family, the pope of the youth, the pope of the new evangelization, the pope of human rights, the pope of the fall of communism, the pope of divine mercy. It is my task today to remember him as the pope of the family. His apostolic exhortation, Familaris Consortio, still in all the world constitutes the principal source of inspiration and orientation both for theological reflection and pastoral practice in regard to the family. It is justly recognized as the magna charta of the many-sided ecclesial and civil commitment of Catholics in service of the family.

John Paul II recognizes that the family plays an essential role both in society and in the Church. ‘The family constitutes the native place and most effective instrument of the humanization and personalization of society.’ Familiaris Consortio, §43 ‘The future evangelization depends in great part on the domestic church [i.e., the family].’ §65 The family is called to undertake its own original and irreplaceable mission, ‘placing itself in its being and acting as an intimate community of love at the service of the Church and society.’ §50 ‘As the family goes, so the Church goes, and so goes human society in its totality.’ (Angelus, October 5, 1997, found here)

These are powerful words that should ever again be listened to and meditated upon. Both in the Church (bishops, priests, lay faithful) and society (cultural, economic, and social subjects) to reinforce and spread awareness about the meaning and value of the family founded on matrimony. Today it is necessary more than ever because of the current crisis: fewer people getting married or marrying later in life, increase in divorces, cohabitation, singles by choice, homosexual relationships; decrease in births; increase in children born outside of wedlock; single parent families by choice; educational emergency; recreational sex; gender ideology. 

Today the strongest protest against the Church has to do with sexual ethics. The Church appears to many as the enemy of freedom and of the joie de vivre, incapable of understanding the sexual revolution and the anthropological question, just as in the past it was late to understand the industrial revolution and the labor question.

The Church, for her part, continues to propose the family based on the marriage of a man and woman open to procreation and the education of children as natural and normative (Familiaris Consortio 3, 11, 19-20, 46); she never tires of reminding public opinion that ‘civilization and the cohesiveness of peoples depend above all on the human quality of their families.’ (Christifideles Laici, 40) Her pedagogy, according to a suggestive expression of John Paul II, (cf. Homily, May 3, 1980, Kinshasa, Zaire, Present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo) does not aim at leveling the mountain but in helping persons to climb it themselves: she teaches the objective truth about the good without compromises and at the same time, with regard to subjective responsibility, takes account of human weakness, of the so-called the law of gradualism, according to which man ‘he knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth.’ (familiaris Consortio §34) Indicating the right direction, she proposes a path of perseverance in conversion, humility, prayer, seeking, commitment, and confidence in God’s mercy.” TO BE CONTINUED

For an interview with Cardinal Antonelli please see this site..

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