IN HIS keynote address at the Campus Conference last Oct. 22, UST Rector Rev. Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. expressed concern over the deteriorating condition of the family as an institution.

“The foundations of the family have weakened. The values that strengthen them have eroded. And with the emergence of the pseudo-marital relationships, we would not be surprised if families will eventually suffer from identity crisis.”

As the Church prepares for the Fourth World Meeting of Families (WMF) here on January 22-26, 2003, UST, headed by Fr. Lana, seeks to reach out to Thomasians and allow them to witness the real essence of a family through organizing congresses and symposia about it.

According to Fr. Lana, the University support congresses on family and the WMF to make the community aware and make them appreciate the ever noble and indespensable role of the family in society.

Dying foundation

In the conference, Fr. Lana discussed the importance of the family in the development of the individual and the threats to the stability of families.

He said that there is a strong perception that the family is deteriorating over the years. According to him, the identity of the family as the basic social unit and a support system to its members is in peril because of attacks on the concept of marriage.

“The identity (of the family) comes under threat because of certain attacks by strong and inconceivable forces that seek to destroy the fundamental basis of the family, which is marriage, and the values that emanate from it,” he said.

According to Fr. Lana, the relationship between marriage and the family is now under question because of the tendency to deny or “downplay” the permanent and stable union of two people. He said there is a tendency to instill the idea that the possibility of having permanent relationships is impossible.

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He also pointed out that the growing acceptance of homosexual unions which now seeks equality of rights enjoyed by married couples, and the growing acceptance to divorce also places the family at risk.

Sexuality and family

Fr. Lana also discussed the concept of “sexual revolution” that has spread widely in the world.

“Now even noble institutions like schools are affected by this phenomenon. This culture of hedonism is also (driving) sex apart from its true context—love and moral responsibility,” Fr. Lana stressed.

To stress his point, Fr. Lana quoted Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo on his statement on the sexual revolution: “The effects of these revolutionary anthropological consumption of sex have given rise to what world-known as the deadly process of separation of sexuality from marriage and the family, of love from life within marriage, and of the unity from the procreative dimension within the conjugal life. Thereby giving support to the campaigns in favor abortion, and natural contraception and family planning. Now underlying all these alarms over the threat to family is the threat to human life.”

Conspiracy against life and family

Fr. Lana expressed his concern on the growing threats not only to the family but also to life itself.

“Human life has never been so disregarded,” he said.

The anti-life mentality has no regard whatsoever for the rights of the unborn, and now reveals its alarming aspects in euthanasia, the disposal of embryos and reproductive technology.”

“The sad thing is that this unparalleled forms of devaluation are being presented to us subtly in the form of deceptions. Henrietta de Villa, former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican, asked about what we see now as discoveries this 20th century? Euthanasia tenderized as death with dignity; abortion glamorized as reproductive rights; marriages among homosexuals and lesbians as alternative family forms; adultery and fornication as mere unusual situations,” Fr. Lana said.

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Fr. Lana emphasized that many of the issues raised by de Villa were external threats to marriage and family.

“The most serious threats to marriage and family are those related to the infrastructure of the family, the internal disintegration and to the structure, stability, and the integrity of the family,” he said.

Fr. Lana defined the infrastructure of the family as “father, mother, and I love you.” According to him, this is the infrastructure needed to really maintain and strengthen a family’s stability and integrity.

Thomasian families and UST

Fr. Lana stressed that the family needs a support system and a partner. And among the support systems, “it is education that should be on the front line.” And among the partners, “it is the school who should play a major role.”

“I (have) the strong revered conviction that the family is the first school of integral formation. Because of this, there is an implicit alliance between a school and a family,” Fr. Lana said.

“The school undoubtedly is the recipient of the values learned in the family. But it is also true that it is the recipient of disvalues acquired and assimilated to the home or the family,” he added.

He acknowledged the “double challenge” that UST is faced with —the task to facilitate both the strengthening of values and the unlearning of “disvalues.”

Fr. Lana also conceded the role of the school as “surrogate parents” to the young people “who are either formed or deformed in their own families.”

“(The school) is also challenged to become a home to many (students). These young people are seeking the sense of belongingness they have not experienced (at home). But I think that the school will be handicap to address these issues if it remained disconnected with the roots of these problems which can be traced in the family,” he said.

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Despite all the noble intentions of reaching out, Fr. Lana stated his awareness of the school’s limitations.

“It has a very little connection with the family affairs. Yet UST is also aware that its (identity) as a Catholic University is encompassing, as it addresses vast issues related to the society, specifically the family,” Fr. Lana said.

He mentioned the efforts of the University to help Filipinos understand the real essence of family through researches. One of these is the collaboration between the Institute of Religion and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on a research project on the status and problems of the families in Asia.

Gospel of life

“The Christian family is the good news to this third millennium. This certainly lights the proclamation of the gospel values of life. This gospel of life seeks to liberate marriage and family from erosion,” Fr. Lana said.

Fr. Lana noted that amid all the economic, social, psychological, and civic threats which have a severe effect on family life, “the strength and vigor of the institution of marriage and family will shine forth time and again,” because according to him, despite the hardships brought by the changing conditions of society, the true nature of marriage and the family is revealed one way or another.

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