Cardinal George Pell has said the family is very resilient, but by the same token, just about everywhere in the Western world it is under pressure. The prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy made this statement when speaking to Vatican Radio after having given the keynote address for a conference in Rome on Saturday intended to discuss strategies for promoting the Church’s teaching on life, marriage, and the family.

The cardinal acknowledged the challenges of fewer people getting married, especially within in the Church, and how widespread are abortion and divorce.

"While there are still many good families, according to many measures, things are much worse than they have been in the past," he said.

Secularization, the Australian prelate underscored, presents challenges to the Church’s teachings on the family, which makes it “much, much harder” for the Church to present her message.

“We are all affected by the world in which we live,” he stressed. 

“There are many, many different types of Catholics – there’s the Pope and Bishops and priests. But I think especially in family life, it’s an area for the witness of married, the witness of spouses, of parents, and of their children.”

Regarding how the Church can respond to challenges to the family, the cardinal said we have to practice what we preach. 

“We [must] explain the importance of faith," he said. "Often we can be very, very understated about the importance of faith, prayer, conversion.” 

“The secrets for religious prosperity," he added, "lie in the Gospels and in the Catholic tradition. We’ve just got to go to them… And adapting more and more to the society – they’ll all say that’s good, but they won’t join, and it will put us out of business if we do it long enough.”

The conference, which brought together speakers from around the world, was organized by a coalition of pro-life and pro-family groups called Voice of the Family, which is committed to supporting the Bishops during last year’s Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, and at the General Assembly of the Bishops which will take place in October 2015. (D.C.L.)