17 May 2014, 1:15 p.m. – THE CHURCH has a special responsibility to protect the Christian family against many challenges that threaten its existence.

This was the message of Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. during the last day of the Asian Conference on the Family last May 16 at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.

In his exhortation, Bacani said the Church must safeguard the union between human beings that the family fosters as the “first social institution established by God to defend human life and love.”

“It is by way of the family, that the good of society, of humanity and of the Church herself passes,” Bacani said. “Because it is so precious to God, it must also be most highly valued by us.”

The bishop emeritus of Novaliches added that the family, the “domestic Church,” is where the very strength of the Church as an institution lies, for it is a “powerful transmitter of Gospel values.”

“If the Christian family is strong, the Church will be strong. If the Christian family is weak, the Church will be weak,” he said. 

‘Tsunami of evils’

While the Church is fulfilling its duty as the “potent protector of the family,” other social institutions threaten the Christian family by implementing “coercive measures” that violate the natural law, Bacani said.

“Governments that promote contraception, abortion, sterilization, coercive population control, divorce, same-sex marriages and euthanasia, destroy families which they are duty-bound to protect and foster,” he said. “Abortion kills the very life without which no family can exist. Contraception and sterilization threatens the procreative purpose of marriage and the family by attacking the very wellsprings of human life.”

A culture of consumerism centered on the accumulation of material wealth instead of cultivation of relationships also threatens the family and contributes to a lifestyle that suffers from an “amnesia of God,” Bacani said, citing Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“Because the family exists prior to the State, we should not allow the State to encroach upon the inherent and inalienable rights of families,” he added.

As a result of moral and liberal relativism, society is suffering from a shortage of loyalty and commitment, which ultimately lead to the breakup of the family.

Bacani urged governments to take part in the Church’s efforts by considering the Charter of the Rights of the Family in crafting family-friendly policies. The Asian Conference on the Family celebrated the 30th year since the charter’s promulgation.

“The Charter manifests that nothing authentically human fails to find an echo ,in the heart of each believer (Gaudium et Spes, n. 1). It expresses what we hold to be the basic framework within which the human family – any human family – every human family – can form, flourish and fulfill its mission.”

Respect for human life

Borrowing the words of Saint John Paul II, the “saint of the family,” Bacani encouraged the faithful, particularly those from Asian countries where abortion and population control measures are widespread, to participate in Church’s mission by taking part in programs that “defend the life of those who are powerless to defend themselves.”

“Where Christ is accepted in faith and imitated in love, there also Christian values are protected and transmitted and the Christian family is strengthened,” he said. “If we choose life and obey the law of God written in our hearts, we shall live.”

The Asian Conference on the Family, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, was attended by more than 500 catechists, educators, lay faithful, and clergy from 14 Asian countries. It was held in different Catholic centers in Manila from May 13 to 16. Danielle Ann Gabriel


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