EXHORTATION – Part II
[Editor’s note: The Exhortation was issued by the participants in the international Asian Conference on the Family, held at different venues in Manila on May 13-16.]
The family is based on marriage, that intimate union of life in complementarity between a man and a woman which is constituted in the freely contracted and publicly expressed indissoluble bond of matrimony and is open to the transmission of life;
Marriage is the natural institution to which the mission of transmitting life is exclusively entrusted;
The family, a natural society, exists prior to the State or any other community, and possesses inherent rights which are inalienable (CRF, Preamble, B-D).
Because the family exists prior to the State, we should not allow the State to encroach upon the inherent and inalienable rights of families.
We urge respect for every human life…
We urge respect for every human life from conception to natural death and echo the words of St. John Paul II, the saint of the family, who called upon the faithful in Asian countries “where the demographic question is often used as an argument for the need to introduce abortion and artificial population control programs, to resist ‘the culture of death’. They can show their fidelity to God and their commitment to true human promotion by supporting and participating in programs which defend the life of those who are powerless to defend themselves” (Ecclesia in Asia, n. 35).
The family and the destiny of nations
We should also ensure that the family remains “the place where different generations come together and help one another to grow in human wisdom and to harmonize the rights of individuals with other demands of social life” (CRF, Preamble, F). We should realize that our place in human history comes by way of our family.
The need for social equity
We commit ourselves and we urge our Asian societies to work for a more equitable sharing in the goods of this world so as to enable all families to have their rightful share in this world’s goods.
The family and the Church as sacrament
We in the Catholic Church have a special obligation to protect and promote the human family and the Christian family. For the Church is of its nature a sacrament of salvation which both signifies and effects the union of God with human beings and the union of human beings with each other (LG 1). Hence, what makes for the unity of human beings should be protected and fostered by the Church. The family is, of course, most necessary for the union of human beings with each other.
The family as the Church in the home
But we in the Church should especially protect and foster the Christian family because it is the basic unit of the Church, the domestic Church, the Church in the home. As the Christian family goes, so goes the Church. If the Christian family is strong, the Church will be strong. If the Christian family is weak, the Church will be weak.
The Church protects the family
But it is also true that the Church is the most potent protector of the family. If the Church cannot protect the family, the family will be left without much protection. But if the Church is vigorous in protecting and fostering the family, the family will be protected and flourish.
Governments must protect the family
We urge governments to consider seriously the Charter on the Rights of the Family in the formulation of policies affecting the family. We pledge ourselves to encourage dialogue with our respective governments on matters affecting the family.
The witness of families…
During this assembly, we have heard and seen couples and young people witness how the Christian family has been a powerful transmitter of Gospel values, and of the Good News itself. Where Christ is accepted in faith and imitated in love, there also Christian values are protected and transmitted and the Christian family is strengthened.
…under the sign of the Cross
In this assembly, we wish to express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Asia and in other parts of the world who are prevented from expressing their faith in God by oppressive cultural systems and government policies.
With brothers and sisters of other faiths…
We have come to appreciate more through the sharing of our brothers and sisters who are of other faiths that they are also our allies in transmitting to our future generations the values of God and his Kingdom.
We choose life!
Today, we are challenged to choose between life and death for the human family. If we choose life and obey the law of God written in our hearts, we shall live (cf. Dt 30:19f). We in this assembly choose life for the family! We will pray and work for the protection, preservation, and flourishing of every human family.
Encouraged by one another…
Strengthened by the testimony of those who have given witness in this assembly, encouraged by our togetherness and sharing, and fortified by the Spirit of the Lord, we go forth in joy to make of the family and especially the Christian family Good News for the salvation of the world.
…we are joyful missionaries!
We shall be joyful missionaries for the family, proclaiming the Gospel of life and love so as to be “a voice in public life” on behalf of freedom and justice that cannot be silenced by force (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 74).
The Holy Family, the Family of Life
We ask the Holy Family of the Lord Jesus Christ – who is Life (Jn 14:6) – the Blessed Virgin Mary – Mother of life (cf. Jn 19:26f; cf. Rev 12:1-6) – and St. Joseph – Guardian of life (Mt 3:13-23) – to intercede for us in our prayer and work for the family to the praise and glory of the Blessed Trinity.