Cardinal Cipriani on the Policies Against Life and the Family

Interview With Primate of Peru

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LIMA, Peru, JUNE 2, 2005 ( Attempts by many governments to push anti-family laws are a sign of the moral relativism of the age, says the cardinal of Lima.

In this interview with the Fides agency, of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima and primate of Peru, talked about the roots of some of the key problems in the world.

Q: Your Eminence, for some years in various parts of the world governments have sought to approve laws which attack life and the family, the nucleus of society. In your opinion what are the causes and aims of this policy?

Cardinal Cipriani: We must go back to the beginning. We see profound, rapid, continual and at times imperceptible changes in attitudes and behavior.

Reductive ideas and concepts of the human person are launched intermittently and, being new, they are mistaken for the truth. In other words we see misinformation with regard to the human person and human freedom. Rather than freedom to choose good over evil, freedom is seen as freedom to do what is evil, ever present and always easier and more attractive.

We see ideological currents ranging from Marxism to liberalism, collectivism to radical individualism, agnosticism to syncretism. We are presented with a new sort of feminism which fails to recognize maternity as God’s most valuable gift to women and upholds homosexuality as a sexual option rather than the disordered inclination that it is.

We see this new current in which everything is relative and nothing is definitive because the ultimate measure is always I myself and my personal whims. We are entering what the future Pope Benedict XVI called the «dictatorship of relativism.»

In this way the weight of public opinion, so often manipulated by the media, allows the presentation of situations of unquestionable immorality to be considered instead normal, undermining sensitivity to moral values and measuring ethics with statistics.

If, for example, certain situations are accepted by the majority according to statistics, legislators aiming to govern a country will make laws which suit those whom they consider the majority of the people. The cause of all this moral relativism in our day is the finality to please people whose vote is necessary to be popular. But the Church following Christ seeks the truth which does not always coincide with the opinion of the majority.

Q: How does the Church in Peru intervene to protect life and the family?

Cardinal Cipriani: Faithful to the Gospel, the Church always intervenes with truth and firmness, denouncing attacks on life and the family.

This can be seen in the countless statements issued by the bishops of Peru on these matters in recent years. The prestige of the Church as «watchman of the Peruvian soul» emerges also from surveys: It is the institution most highly esteemed for preaching the faith and defending the sacred right to life and it could not be otherwise.

Continually and in many different activities in parishes, schools and church movements, the Church in Peru strives to promote the Gospel of life and the family. We have an annual Day for Life for promoting greater awareness of Church teaching and the contents of the encyclical «Evangelium Vitae.»

In September we have National Family Week, with different activities to promote reflection on the family, the teaching of the Church and the situation of families today.

Q: We see the family being destroyed in several places — in Spain, for example, by laws which intend to give a union between persons of the same sex equal recognition as a marriage. What is your opinion of the situation?

Cardinal Cipriani: First of all, I thank God that in Peru we still have many, many families based on fidelity, in which parents welcome children and build solid families, real «domestic churches.» The picture is not so bleak.

These married couples live according to the natural law and also according to the grace received in the sacrament of matrimony to which they respond with generosity. They are authentic witnesses to the Gospel.

But, sad to say, there exists a sort of «international club» which aims to promote social aberrations, hedonist sex as a lifestyle and many other attitudes which are bad for the spiritual health of Christians and which are clear for all to see.

There is a massive process of de-Christianization which harms women most of all. The Church prays for women and preaches the doctrine of the sacrament of matrimony, which cannot change to follow the fashions or ideological currents of today, which are, sad to say, neo-pagan.

It is necessary to form minds and hearts from childhood to old age so that every baptized person — but in a special way those people with influential positions in society — realizes that the truth must be protected and promoted.

The modern apostle must not be afraid to stand up for what is true and good, even it is means losing a job, coming under attack and at times offering one’s life. In these cases the sin of omission is as serious as the sinful deed.

Q: How is the Church in Peru responding to this systematic attack?

Cardinal Cipriani: The mission of the Catholic Church is to preach faith in Christ to all peoples.

This permanent task is multiform: parish catechesis, religious instruction in schools, administration of the sacraments, Sunday Mass homilies, ministry of hospital chaplains, in convents, spiritual retreats, and many other useful Church events, Eucharistic congresses, youth days, voluntary helpers assisting the sick, lay associations which are beacons of religiosity.

In Lima, at present, we have a city mission «Remar Mar Adentro» [Go into the Deep] involving hundreds of thousands of people in parishes, schools, confraternities and Church movements with the mission to bring people to conversion, to turn their hearts toward God.

These are all channels for teaching Catholic doctrine and morals — social doctrine which defends the rights of workers while not forgetting their duties.

Every baptized person has a missionary duty which calls for radical commitment. Hence the need for promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life in quantity but more especially in quality.

We pray for vocations knowing that we can rely on God’s grace and we see the serious questions in the world today as a «training ground» where Christians learn to be leaven for humanity today which sees a new springtime coming.

Looking with serenity at Mary, Mother of the poor, we will be strengthened for this fascinating task in which the Church has a «moral supplement or reserve» to offer the world of today.

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