“Complementarity is a valuable word, with multiple meanings. It may refer to different situations in which one element completes another or compensates for a lack. However, complementarity is much more than this”, said the Pope this morning to the participants in the international interreligious colloquium on complementarity between man and woman, organised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in collaboration with the Pontifical Councils for the Family, for Interreligious Dialogue, and for Promoting Christian Unity.
He continued, “This complementarity is the foundation of marriage and the family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our gifts and those of others, and where we begin to learn the art of living together. For most of us, the family constitutes the principal environment in which we begin to 'breathe' values and ideals, as well as to realise our potential for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families may be the locus of tensions: between selfishness and altruism, reason and passion, between immediate desires and long-term aims.
The Pontiff spoke about the crisis that currently affects marriage and the family, and recalled that in the throwaway culture in which we live, increasing numbers of people reject the public commitment of marriage. “This revolution in habits and morality has often flown the flag of freedom, but in reality it has led to spiritual and material devastation for countless human beings, especially the most vulnerable. Evidence is mounting that the decline of the culture of marriage is associated with an increase in poverty and a series of other social ills that disproportionately affect women, children and the elderly”. Similarly, he explained that the crisis in the family has given rise to a crisis in human ecology, “as social environments, like natural environments, need to be protected”, and he emphasised the need to promote a “new human ecology”.
It is important, he added, to promote the fundamental pillars that support a nation: its immaterial goods. “The family remains the foundation of coexistence and the guarantee against social fracture. Children have the right to grow up in a family, with a father and a mother, able to create an environment suitable for their development and their emotional maturation. … The young represent the future: it is important that they are not left to be swept up by this damaging mentality of the temporary, and that they are revolutionary for their courage to seek a strong and lasting love”.
The Holy Father concluded by expressing his hope that this colloquium may be “a source of inspiration for all those who seek to support and strengthen the union between man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful asset for people, families, communities and society”, and confirmed his intention to attend the next World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., in September 2015.