Families Are an Answer to Crisis, Says Papal Legate

Pope’s Secretary of State Previews Mexico Trip

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- This week’s 6th World Meeting of Families is a platform to present the nuclear family as a solution for the global crisis, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said today before leaving for Mexico.

The Pope’s secretary of state will attend the Wednesday-Sunday event as Benedict XVI’s representative. The World Meetings of Families were begun by Pope John Paul II and are held every three years.

The cardinal spoke to a small group of journalists today about the need to recognize the rights of the family.

“The world economic situation is very grave and it affects families above all, as well as the poorest peoples,” Cardinal Bertone said. “The Church is worried and the Pope has launched various messages. With the motive of the Christmas feasts, he has spoken of the commitment of sobriety and solidarity, which involves everyone, so as not to unload and delegate the task of affronting this crisis only on political, economic or financial leaders, or the leaders of central banks.

“It affects everyone and it affects everyone personally — precisely in the realm of sobriety and solidarity.”

The cardinal announced that social issues such as this one will be the theme of Benedict XVI’s next encyclical, which he said is “in its final leg” and which “certainly will be published during the first half of this year.”

Understanding rights

The Pope’s secretary of state went on to note how “in our times, there is a deviation in favor of individual rights, as absolute rights, without taking into account their base, which is the nature of man and woman.”

“Pope John Paul II had as a project to write an encyclical on natural law,” he continued, “as a platform, as a common denominator for dialogue with all cultures and to permit a firm anthropological base for rights, without hiding the duties.

“So, duties correspond to rights. After having celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have to think of a Charter of the Duties of Man and Woman, and of institutions: of religious institutions and public ones.”

Cardinal Bertone recalled the recently deceased Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, who served as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and who “worked hard to elaborate at the social-political level a Charter of Rights of the Family.”

“These days, civil rights — merely individual — are much emphasized,” he said, “and the rights of the family, as a fundamental, living cell of society and as an intermediate cell between the individual and the state, are not recognized.”

This mentality, the cardinal contended, explains the reason that even in countries of Catholic majority, laws are approved that “are contrary to what we first call ‘natural law,’ and therefore, to the rights of the family as a union between man and woman.”

For this reason, the cardinal said he considers that the Church, and particularly the 6th World Meeting of Families, should “create awareness, also among politicians: Catholic and non-Catholic politicians.”

Helping immigrants

In speaking of the crisis, both regarding finances and regarding the family, the secretary of state also took up the difficult situation of immigrants, particularly on the American continent.

He noted the collaboration between the episcopal conferences of the United States, Mexico, Cuba and other nations with the Holy See, in an attempt to “influence the respective nations, the political authorities, to face in a more positive way the problem of immigrants.”

Cardinal Bertone was set to arrive today in Mexico. He will be received during his stay by Mexican President Felipe Calderón at the official presidential residence, Los Pinos.

The cardinal will close Friday the Theological Congress of the 6th World Meeting of Families with the final conference on “Family, Justice and Peace.”

On Saturday evening, he will preside over a festival-testimonial event in the atrium of the Basilica of Guadalupe. The following morning, Sunday, he will preside over the closing of the World Meeting, also to be held at the basilica. The Pope from Rome will follow this event via video connection.

The cardinal’s program also includes a stop in Queretaro, Mexico, on Jan. 19, for a meeting with the world of culture and education. He is scheduled to leave Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

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