Pope Speaks on Family, Gender and Humanity


Pope Benedict XVI on 12-21-2012, via the  Vatican website via Crisis Magazine, linked via feed at Convert Journal:

[D]espite all impressions to the contrary, the family is still strong and vibrant today. But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations—especially in the western world. […T]he Synod repeatedly emphasized the significance of the family as the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence. This is something we learn by living it with others and suffering it with others. […T]he question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself—about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human.[…T]here is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? […]Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? […] Man’s refusal to make any commitment—which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering—means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child—essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being—of what being human really means—is being called into question. [T]he famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient)[…] lay[s] the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. 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. […] 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. […] […]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. […] 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 […]. 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. {I]t becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

These are timely words. We live in an era when heart surgery in close-up full color is shown on buses, when cosmetic alterings of the face, torso and all other parts are mentioned as casually as lipsticks in celebrity news referred to as “having work done” (as if the bodies of even movie stars were naturally inadequate), and when children feel pressure in school to dress extremely immodestly to prevent ridicule in the halls.
There is no going back to earlier times, which weren’t perfect anyway. The only way is forward. But to what? Humanity can move toward God or away from Him. There is nothing inevitable about a godless society. We can and must progress toward God, toward holiness, toward sanity.

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