Anderson: Solidarity Not Just Another Virtue

Says It’s Fundamental Element of Family

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MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 ( Solidarity isn’t just another virtue, but rather the key to discovering the truth of family relationships and the foundation for building a civilization of love, says the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Carl Anderson said this in his address today to the 6th World Meeting of Families, being held through Sunday in Mexico City. His afternoon conference was titled «Family and Solidarity.»

Anderson, who is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family, noted that the concept of solidarity was first expressed by socialist Pierre Leroux as an alternative to «the Christian idea of love — as the new, rational and effective response to social problems.»

It was John Paul II, he said, who «purified the concept of solidarity, even to the point of describing solidarity as ‘undoubtedly a Christian virtue’ which ‘finds its deepest roots in Christian faith’ and ‘is expressed in Christian love.'»

He recalled that the Pontiff wrote about solidarity within the context of unity in his encyclical «Sollicitudo Rei Socialis»: «Beyond human and natural bonds, already so close and strong, there is discerned in the light of faith a new model of the unity of the human race, which must ultimately inspire our solidarity.

«This supreme model of unity, which is a reflection of the intimate life of God, one God in three Persons, is what we Christians mean by the word ‘communion.'»

«In other words,» Anderson explained, «to be made in the image of God is not simply to be fashioned as such, but to function as an image of God — that is, to be ontologically destined to a life of loving communion with others.»

«This is the foundation of the civilization of love,» he added. «Moreover, this Christian anthropology provides such an understanding of man that makes the call to build a civilization of love not only a feasible option, but the most necessary fulfillment of our humanity.»


Anderson noted that Benedict XVI contributed to the understanding of solidarity by placing it within the context of interdependence.

Writing in the review «Communio» in 1996, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: «The real God is by his very nature entirely being-for (Father), being-from (Son), and being-with (Holy Spirit). Man, for his part, is God’s image precisely insofar as the ‘from,’ ‘with,’ and ‘for’ constitute the fundamental anthropological pattern.»

Anderson continued: «Human love and interdependence cannot be understood only at a horizontal level. When it is, it is often reduced to mutual dependence or even mutual usury.

«Rather, human love and interdependence is enlightened by our common vertical interdependence, a dependence between persons made apparent first in a relationship with those who gave us life.»

The supreme knight said this contribution of Benedict XVI «provides us with great inroads in understanding and defending solidarity, both within the family and beyond the family.»


Anderson said Cardinal Ratzinger offered the presence of a child in the mother’s womb as «a very graphic depiction of the essence of human existence in general.»

«Within the womb,» explained the cardinal, «the child’s life depends upon being with the mother. But like Adam, mere presence is not enough, and in pregnancy, the child’s presence with the mother necessitates the mother’s goodness.

«This being-with compels the being of the other … to become a being-for.»

Anderson said this being-for, being-with and being-from is expressed genetically «in how each child resembles the mother and father,» and personally when parents look for physical similarities between themselves and their children.

«It is recognized by the children born as the result of anonymous donors who try to find their anonymous fathers,» he added. «Its confusion was expressed, symbolically, when the mother of the first Chinese child born from in vitro fertilization gave her daughter not only the mother’s own name, but the name of the doctor who performed the procedure.»

«Through divorce, abandonment, and some uses of fertility technology, parenthood is separated from presence,» the knight said. «That is, for many children today being-from a parent no longer means being-with a parent and thus no longer means having a parent present being-for that child.

«Likewise, parenthood is separated from marriage, when being with a spouse is separated from the openness of a child being from the couple.»

Much more

Quoting John Paul II, Anderson concluded that «solidarity’s role in and through the family is more than just another ‘social virtue’ along with truth, freedom, justice, subsidiarity and … charity.'»

«If solidarity’s future must be built upon this communion of persons,» he added, «the champion of this communion is first and foremost the family — not only as a teacher of social virtues, but as the first model of the Trinitarian communion of persons. It is there that we not only find the family present in solidarity, but indeed its vital model and its nucleus.»

«Without solidarity within the family, there can be no solidarity beyond the family,» said Anderson. «Without an understanding and protection of the family, there can be no easy understanding of the human family that is society, the Christian family that is the Church, or the family of families that is the parish.»

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