Threats to the Family Seen Abounding in America

Santo Domingo Declaration Cites 3 Themes in Particular

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2002 ( Anti-life and anti-marriage legislation, as well as the “tyranny of the market,” are adding up to a major assault on families in the Americas, a document warns.

“It could be said that the intention is to dismantle, piece by piece, the edifice of the family founded on marriage,” states the so-called Santo Domingo Declaration.

Published today by the Vatican Press Office, the declaration is the conclusive document of a meeting of presidents of the episcopal conferences of America, held in the Dominican Republic.

The Sept. 1-5 meeting addressed the topic “Situation and Prospects for the Family and Life in America.” The meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and the Latin American bishops’ council (CELAM).

The declaration, addressed in particular to politicians and officials of the executive, legislative and judicial powers of the American countries, begins by criticizing “a strong ideological pressure.”

“We are profoundly afflicted,” the cardinals and bishops say, “by the presumption to give legal recognition — with juridical standing that the peoples’ tradition gave only to marriage, an eminently public good — to so-called de facto unions, in their various versions and stages.”

“Our disquiet is even greater when such presumption refers to persons of the same sex,” the document says. “It is inadmissible to want to have homosexual and lesbian unions accepted as legitimate unions and even as ‘marriage,’ with the alleged right to adopt children.”

“To recognize this other type of unions and equate them with the family is to discriminate and wage assault against it,” the Santo Domingo Declaration states.

The text also addresses the problems of genetic engineering, cloning, assisted fertilization and euthanasia, and affirms “the sacredness of the human person from conception until natural death.”

“Science cannot establish itself as the exclusive criterion outside ethical principles, since it would compromise the person and society,” the bishops say.

“We are shocked by the fact that while fundamental human rights are proclaimed with legitimate insistence, and without a doubt the first is the right to life (see Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man), the abominable crime of abortion is increasingly widespread,” they observe. Moreover, a “crime is turned into a right,” the prelates lament.

According to the declaration, the third great threat to families in America today is “abject poverty,” caused by “rampant capitalism and the tyranny of the market.”

“We share the suffering of so many families who feel the need to emigrate because of the lack of job opportunities in many regions,” the bishops continue.

“It is not true that the increase of human beings is the cause of poverty and misery,” they add. “We know these are a product of the prevailing injustice. The latter produces greater enrichment of the rich, and more impoverishment of the poor. Never before was there a greater contrast between wealth and poverty.”

The document ends with an urgent appeal to “politicians and lawmakers, not only Catholics, … not to give their vote to iniquitous laws.”

In particular, the document refers to the right of conscientious objection “before the avalanche of draft laws on de facto unions at their various levels, which attack the singularity of marriage.”

“How could a consistent Christian, politician or lawmaker, even if he does not share our faith, cast his vote or lend himself to ‘celebrate’ such unions that in fact discriminate against their moral world?” the bishops conclude.

The document was signed by Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; and Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, president of CELAM. It was approved unanimously at the Santo Domingo meeting.

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