“It’s an extraordinary thing that so many Christian communities and 14 world religions could come together to give witness to basic convictions about matrimony,” said Cardinal Gerhard Mueller. “The way the family is undervalued or threatened in many places is akin to standing on a precipice; we must stop and not make that final step from which there is no return.”
The head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department was speaking on the sidelines of Humanum, a three-day international and interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage held this week at the Vatican.
The Vatican-hosted colloquium barely mentioned same-sex marriage. Instead the focus among the large worldwide alliance of faiths was to uphold the sanctity and beauty of matrimony. Six professionally made films on the theme were a highlight. Not a few participants said privately it was the “synod that should have been,” in reference to the controversial Vatican synod on the family that took place last month.
Pope Francis opened the colloquium. His address, in which he called for a new human ecology that upholds traditional marriage, was well received. “To reflect upon "complementarity" is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation,” he said. “Family is an anthropological fact,” he added, and should not be “based on ideological notions.” Family is “per se,” he said. “It is a strength per se.”
Philosopher and respected author Sister Prudence Allen highlighted the importance of understanding the complementarity of man and woman, while several speakers called on all people of good will to courageously defend marriage in the face of efforts by a vocal minority to redefine it.
Famous American evangelical preacher Rick Warren, one of many high-profile speakers, made the point that rarely is a normal marriage and sexuality portrayed on television and in film, but usually sexual relations are “between singles or they’re adulterous.” Billions of people believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, he said, and those in good marriages need to hold up their good example for others to follow.
Former chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks gave what some felt was the best speech of the conference, noting that “almost everything that marriage once brought together has now been split apart. Sex has been divorced from love, love from commitment, marriage from having children, and having children from responsibility for their care.” But when a man and woman turn to one another in a bond of faithfulness, he added, they are able to redeem “the darkness of the world by the radiance of love.”
The strength of the witness given at the colloquium did not go unnoticed: The Humanum website was hacked and it created a firestorm of abuse from anti-family protesters on Twitter. Organizers, however, say this is just the start and that a worldwide, interreligious movement defending traditional marriage is coming to fruition. After 50 years of relative silence, true matrimony is fighting back.
Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times. Read more reports from Edward Pentin — Click Here Now.
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