In a press conference held at the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family presented the details of the conference "From Milan to Philadelphia: Perspectives of the Pontifical Council for the Family", which analyzed the results of the 7th World Meeting of Families that took place in Milan in May of last year. Also participating in the press conference were married couple Francesca Dossi and Alfonso Colzani, directors of the Archdiocese of Milan's Service for Families.
The archbishop noted that that event showed the vital strength that families represent in the Church and in society as well. Archbishop Paglia also emphasized the role that the family plays as a "fundamental resource of our society."
"The statistics are unanimous in pointing out that the family is the first place of safety, refuge, and support for life and remains at the top of the vast majority of young person's wishes," Archbishop Paglia said.
"In Italy, for example, around 80% of young people say that they prefer marriage (whether it be civil or religious) and only 20% would choose co-habitation. In France, surveys indicate that 77% want to build their family life, staying with the same person throughout their lives. On the other hand, the need for family is inscribed on the human heart, since God tells us 'It is not good for the man to be alone'."
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family emphasized that this truth, which marks human life, "seems to take a beating from counter culture."
"There is an escalation in the race to individualism that is breaking up the family as well as other forms of society. That is why the breakdown of the family is the first problem of contemporary society," he said.
Saying that the current crisis of marriage and the family in today's society is a matter of concern for the Church, Archbishop Paglia stated that there is an urgency to have a "careful cultural reflection" as well as "an even more rigorous defense of the family."
"The Pontifical Council for the Family feels the urgency to help from within as well as from outside the confines of the Church in order to rediscovery the value of the Family," he said.
"There is great work to be done on the cultural level: working to restore value to a culture of the family so that it might once more become attractive to and relevant for life itself and for society."
"Taking care of a family," he continued," does not mean restricting oneself to a segment of life or of society. Today it means widening horizons beyond oneself and deciding to participate in the building of a society that is familial, even of embracing the 'family' of peoples and nations."
Archbishop Paglia concluded his address to journalists by noting several upcoming initiatives that the Pontifical Council for the Family will launch throughout the year and will lead up till the next World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Among them will be a series of seminars entitled "Dialogues for the Family" which will be held in April. The seminars will allow experts in different fields to address issues concerning marriage and the family. Also expected will be an International Congress of Catholic Lawyers in June that will focus on the rights of the family, and a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council in October that will take a look at the Charter of Rights of the Family.