Representatives of Voice of the Family attended the conference held by the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome from January 22-24. At the conclusion of the conference the President of the Council, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, encouraged delegates to submit to him those points that they thought should be included in the PCF’s own submission to the Synod Secretariat.
Voice of the Family has today sent Archbishop Paglia the text below.
We ask all Catholics to pray that the Ordinary Synod in October 2015 will resist all attempts at manipulation by those pursuing a radical agenda and will reaffirm unambiguously the full teaching of the Catholic Church, which alone can resolve the crisis facing the family.
SUBMISSION TO THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL OF THE FAMILY CONSULTATION FROM VOICE OF THE FAMILY
Voice of the Family respectfully suggests that the Pontifical Council for the Family include the following points in its submission to the Synod Secretariat:
The natural moral law
The Instrumentum Laboris prepared for the Extraordinary Synod contained many problematic texts on the subject of the natural law, such as the following statement:
“The language traditionally used in explaining the term ‘natural law’ should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner. In particular, the vast majority of responses and an even greater part of the observations request that more emphasis be placed on the role of the Word of God as a privileged instrument in the conception of married life and the family, and recommend greater reference to the Bible, its language and narratives. In this regard, respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the ‘order in creation’, which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world.” (No.30)
This paragraph, and others like it, indicate an extraordinary confusion about the reality of the natural law and the relationship between the natural and supernatural orders.
The lineamenta for the Ordinary Synod does not make any reference to the natural law, despite the concept being a fundamental underpinning of both philosophy and theology.
This omission is extremely grave because it is through understanding the natural law that men and women, both within and without the Church, can come to understand that moral norms are dictated by reason and ordered to true human flourishing rather than imposed by authority in an arbitrary manner.
The Ordinary Synod must therefore clearly reaffirm the traditional understanding of the natural law.
Conservative estimates indicate that over one billion unborn human lives have been destroyed by abortion since the proliferation of permissive abortion legislation around the world following the legalisation of abortion in the Soviet Union in 1920. Abortion is the gravest attack on the family because it attacks the relationship between a mother and father and their child. The profound love that should exist between parent and child is instead replaced by betrayal and death.
There was no reference to this deliberate killing in the final relatio of the Extraordinary Synod. Nor was there any mention of the destruction of human life caused by in vitro fertilisation or abortifacient forms of contraception.
It is perhaps even more scandalous that the only indirect mention of abortion was a reference to a “decline in population” partly due to “a mentality against having children promoted by the world politics of reproductive health” (No. 10) Here cardinals and bishops adopt the euphemism of the pro-abortion lobby and do nothing to explain what “reproductive health” really involves, namely, the killing of unborn children or the prevention of their conception.
The Ordinary Synod needs to face the reality of abortion – to call things by their proper name – and to call all Catholics and people of good will to combat the greatest violation of human rights in human history.
As well as destroying innocent life abortion wounds all other members of the family. Families marked by abortion are truly “wounded families.” Pastoral care for these families, based on the truth about abortion, needs proposing with urgency.
The controversy caused by Cardinal Kasper’s proposals must be brought to an end by the Ordinary Synod. We are convinced that the Synod must:
- Reaffirm the indissolubility of marriage and clearly state that all sexual activity by divorced persons in invalid civil unions constitutes the grave sin of adultery.
- Reaffirm and fully explain the nature of mortal sin and the impossibility of receiving Holy Communion without repentance and a firm purpose of amendment.
- Reaffirm and clearly propose that God will always provide those in difficult situations the grace to remain without sin. Catholics must be called to exercise heroic virtue.
We also recommend that the Synod teach clearly that cohabitation is a grave sin and is psychologically and spiritually harmful. The gravity of cohabitation must not be minimised by seeking to find positive aspects of sinful situations.
The discussion of contraception in the lineamenta is inadequate. The Ordinary Synod needs to propose the fullness of the Church’s teaching. This full presentation needs to explain the beauty and gift of marriage and human sexuality. It also needs to uphold the Church’s teaching on the gravity of acting contrary to the moral law. The consequences of the widespread use of contraception have been disastrous for individuals, the family and society as a whole. It should be explained that this is the result of the separation between the procreative and unitive aspects of the sexual act. It should further be noted that this acts as a major catalyst of the culture of death. As a result of the separation of the two ends of the sexual act the procreation of new human life is increasingly viewed as a “choice”, rather than as the primary end for which marriage was ordained by God. In this context unborn human life is more readily seen as a “problem”, especially if the pregnancy is “unplanned”. Abortion effectively becomes a form of birth control.
The use of contraception is also linked to abortion in a much more direct way; many forms of hormonal contraception can act as abortifacients.
It is of crucial importance that the Ordinary Synod affirms the Church’s teachings clearly and without ambiguity.
Euthanasia and “assisted suicide”
The omission of any reference to euthanasia and “assisted suicide” in this document is almost as striking as the omission of abortion. Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of individuals whose lives are no longer deemed worth living. “Assisted suicide” refers to assistance given to a severely disabled person who has expressed a wish to end their life but is not capable of taking their own life. Both practices are now legal in a number of countries and there is much pressure for their legalisation across the world, particularly in developed nations. In Belgium the euthanasia of children has also been legalised.
The legalisation of euthanasia and “assisted suicide” puts the vulnerable at risk of being killed involuntarily, or of being put under pressure, of varying kinds, to take their own life. Both practices indicate a view that certain lives are not worth living and are associated with a eugenic mentality.
Both of these crimes attack the family, in which the elderly and the vulnerable should be cherished and protected not killed by euthanasia or “assisted suicide”. The Ordinary Synod must not neglect this grave problem.
The Ordinary Synod must correct the damage caused by the 2014 Synod by clearly reaffirming that the pastoral care of persons with homosexual tendencies must be based on the teaching of the Church: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1986).
It must also be made clear that civil unions of homosexual persons cannot be accepted. The Synod also needs to deal with the threats posed to freedom of Christians, and other citizens, from an ever more militant and intolerant “homosexual rights” lobby. In many countries children are also being indoctrinated into the homosexual ideology.
The lineamenta contains no reference to the threat posed by so-called “gender theory”, which denies the reality of the distinction between male and female, masculinity and femininity.
This theory poses a fundamental threat to human society, and particularly to children. In his Christmas Address to the Roman Curia in 2012 Pope Benedict XVI warned that:
“According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: ‘male and female he created them’ (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”
We suggest that the Ordinary Synod take up the problems discussed by the Holy Father in this address.
Modern methods of sex education are harmful to the physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual development of our children. Problems include:
- The introduction of children to sexual matters too early in their childhood; this distorts the healthy development of the child.
- The indoctrination of children into an ideological view of human sexuality that is not compatible with natural reason and the teaching of the Church.
- The encouragement of abortion, contraception, pornography, fornication, homosexuality, divorce and “remarriage”.
- The undermining of the rights of parents as the primary educators of their children.
The crisis will continue to escalate until our children once again learn the truth about human sexuality from their parents and are protected from false understandings propagated by schools, governments, the media and many forms of entertainment.
The truths contained in the PCF’s excellent 1995 document The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality need to be re-proposed at the Synod.
Parents as primary educators
In the lineamenta a brief mention is made of parental rights. The report states “Parents, then, are able to freely choose the type of education for their children, according to their convictions.” This statement is inadequate for two reasons. Firstly, it does not fully state that parents are themselves the primary educators of their children who possess the right and the duty to educate their children, both in accordance with temporal needs and according to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The second grave omission is that there is no mention of the severity of the threat currently faced by parents. The most pressing threats, which vary from nation to nation, include:
– The denial of the right of parents to home-school their children.
– The denial of the right of parents to control what their children are taught in schools i.e. through the imposition by the state of compulsory anti-life, anti-family sex education.
– The provision of access to abortion and contraception in schools without parental knowledge or consent.
– The requirement for teachers to instruct children in the new definition of “marriage” in countries where “same-sex marriage” has been legalised.
– Attempts to prevent Catholic schools from teaching that their religious beliefs are objectively true
This is one of the most urgent problems facing families. It must be addressed by the Ordinary Synod.
Threats to freedom
The freedom of those who live according to the natural law and the teaching of the Catholic Church is being increasingly restricted.
Cases are multiplying all over the world of individuals who have seen their livelihoods destroyed or threatened by, for example, a vigorous and intolerant homosexual lobby which demands complete approval and compliance. Cases include attempts to force B&B owners to accept homosexual couples sharing beds on their premises and to force bakers to bake cakes celebrating “same-sex marriages”. We have also seen employees punished for expressing their views on “same-sex marriage” and homosexuality and religious ministers and street preachers arrested for sharing their traditional Christian views. Most seriously of all we see children being indoctrinated into the “homosexual rights” agenda in their schools. All of this has developed against a longer term background of threats to the right to conscientious objection to involvement in grave moral offences such as abortion. Medical professionals and teachers are particularly at risk of having their careers destroyed by the intolerance of those who wish to impose practices contrary to the moral law.
Concern is growing across the Catholic world. Parents fear that their children will grow up in a world where they will have to endure suffering and persecution if they strive to live according to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Church. This problem must be dealt with by the Ordinary Synod.
Voice of the Family
Submitted 29th January 2015