VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2004 ( Youth are attracted to family life but often don't want to commit themselves to it, says John Paul II.

For this reason, it is necessary to offer a cultural response, the Pope told a symposium of Europeans who have been meeting in Rome on the theme "The Family in Europe." The symposium is taking place within the context of the International Year of the Family.

"In the first millennium," the Holy Father said today, "the encounter between Roman law and the Christian message gave rise to what can be called the European model of the family, spread on a broad scale to the Americas and Oceania."

In the last 50 years, he said, phenomena have occurred in developed societies "in a very visible fashion and symptomatic of a deep crisis, with consequences we all can see today."

"In the face of such crises, the family has always been an element of cohesion and strength and, even when bitterly contested, has been the object of hopes, desires, projects and nostalgia," John Paul II said.

"The origin of the crisis is, in fact, a matter of culture, and today the younger generations seem to be attracted by the ideal of the traditional family," he noted. "But at the same time they are incapable of assuming the responsibility in an adequate manner."

"The central question is: Can we today still speak of a model of the family?" the Pope said. "The Church is convinced, within today's context, that it is more than ever necessary to reaffirm the institutions of marriage and the family as realities which derive from the wise will of God, and fully reveal their meaning and value within his plan of creation and salvation."

Contending that the crisis is due in part to a matter of culture, the Holy Father considers the solution to be the duty of "those that are active in the area of culture and scientific investigation, of those whose method is one of dialogue and bringing face to face various disciplines that deal with themes concerning the family."

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for the Diocese of Rome, participated in the symposium and stated that "there are forces in society that want to disintegrate the family."

On Vatican Radio he said that the participants of the symposium are challenged to "find paths to return to the family its value in the social and cultural context of today."