Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Europe and Its Discontents

As I was running out the door this morning, heading off to catch the ferry, my dad's most recent edition of First Things caught my eye and I managed to convince him to let me "borrow" it for an unspecified period of time.

I enjoyed reading through some of the articles today, but one in particular caught my eye. It's an excerpt from a book written by Pope Benedict XVI (probably before he was elected) on the condition of Europe today. The article is called "Europe and its Discontents." If you're not subscribed to First Things it'll be up on their website by next month for you to read.

I just thought I'd share with you an excerpt I found particularly relevant in light of recent issues we've been facing in Canada. In speaking of various elements which constitute European identity, Pope Benedict XVI states:

"A second element that characterizes European identity is marriage and the family. Monogamous marriage - both as a fundamental structure for the relation between men and women and as the nucleus for the formation of the state community - was forged in the biblical faith. It gave its special physiognomy and its special humanity to Europe, both in the West and the East, precisely because the form of fidelity and the sacrifice that it entails must always be regained through great efforts and suffering.

Europe would no longer be Europe if this fundamental nucleus of its social edifice were to vanish or to be changed in an essential way. We all know how much marriage and the family are in jeopardy. Their integrity has been undermined by the easier forms of divorce at the same time as there has been a spread in the practice of cohabitation between men and women without the legal form of marriage. Paradoxically, homosexuals are now demanding that their unions be granted a legal form that is more or less equivalent to marriage. Such a development would fall outside the whole moral history of humanity that, whatever the diverse legal forms, has never lost sight of the fact that marriage is essentially the special communion of man and woman, which opens itself to children and thus to family.

The question this raises is not of discrimination but of what constitutes the human person as a man or as a woman, and which union should receive a legal form. If the union between man and woman has strayed further and further from legal forms, and if homosexual unions are perceived more and more as enjoying the same standing as marriage, then we are truly facing a dissolution of the image of humankind bearing consequences that can only be extremely grave."