MANILA, May 14, 2014–A visiting Vatican official has called on the people of goodwill to fight any efforts that would destroy true marriage and the family.
Bishop John Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that tradition of marriage need to be ‘protected’ from every possible misrepresentation from their true nature.
“People of goodwill, not only Christians, Catholics or whatever, but all people have to fight against (these attacks on family),” he said.
According to him, the family is threatened today by wrong conceptions of human nature.
The bishop said that protecting marriage and family is defending the common good.
“Everybody has to consider not only as a national treasure, but also the treasure of the common good,” Laffitte said.
In his address on the Charter of Rights for Family before lawmakers and lawyers on May 13 at a hotel in Manila, Laffitte lamented how some policies, instead of supporting the family institution, are working to weaken it.
“Today, marriage is explicit that it’s between a man and a woman. It seems obviously in the Philippines but it’s not the case in many countries,” he said.
“Therefore, the family is not an institution that could be available to the legislature and the prey of the innovative fancy of policymakers,” added Laffitte.
Among those in attendance during his address include Papal nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, and several bishops from the Philippines and from Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Taiwan.
Philippine Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Sonny Angara, Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Koko Pimentel, Vicente Sotto and Gringo Honasan were present.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justices Hilario Davide, Jr., and Artemio Panganiban, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and several congressmen and lawyers also graced the event.
Laffitte is in Manila for the 4-day Asian Conference on the Family, organized by the CBCP in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Family, as a response to the secularist influences that threaten the sanctity of the family.
With the theme “Families of Asia: Lights of Hope”, the gathering aims to generate discussion on the Charter of Rights of the Family—its message, challenges, and impact on families in the Asian region—30 years after it was promulgated on October 22, 1983.
The Charter, which came two years after the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II on the role of the Christian family in the modern world (Familiaris Consortio), was intended to provide a “formulation of the fundamental rights that are inherent in the natural and universal society which is the family.”
Hundreds of religious, educators, lay faithful, and even politicians all over Asia attended the conference to tackle the current situation of the human family.
Pope: Deepen your faith
In his message, Pope Francis encouraged the participants to deepen their Catholic faith and share it with others.
The Holy Father “calls upon all the lay faithful gathered to deepen their experience of faith and communion, under the guidance of the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, so as to be a leaven of Christ’s love in the midst of humanity”.
The pontiff’s message was relayed by Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, to the CBCP through the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pinto.
Pope Francis also imparted his apostolic blessing to the conference “as a pledge of peace and joy in our Lord Jesus.”
Examples to the world
Archbishop Villegas said the Philippines was chosen as venue for the international event so that the “thriving” Filipino families may serve as an example to the rest of the world.
“It’s an acknowledgment by the Holy See that the Filipino family is an example for families in the world. Lights of hope,” he said.
While same conferences have been held in other Asian countries in the past, this is the first time that a Vatican official from the Pontifical Council for the Family graced such event in Asia.
“We come to host the ACF with a certain sense of holy pride because we want to say to the rest of the world that the Asian families are signs of hope, lights of hope, symbols of hope for the rest of the families of the world,” said Villegas.
“Where does the light of the Asian family come from? Only one source from the light of the holy family itself. The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” he said. (Roy Lagarde / CBCPNews)