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May 27, 1991


Family has central place in hierarchy of values

The Pro-Secretary of State, Archbishop Angelo Sodano, wrote the following letter expressing the Holy Father's best wishes for an international congress on the family. The letter was addressed to Archbishop Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo of Guadalajara, Mexico, where the congress was being held.

Your Excellency,

The Holy Father has been informed of the coming celebration in Guadalajara of the international congress which the Association "Familia Mexicana" (FAME) has organized with the theme of "John Paul II and the Family". He has given me the task of sending his affectionate greeting to the organizers, participants and experts invited to attend these days of study and reflection which are dedicated to such an important topic as the problems related to the family in today's world.

This congress is also meant to commemorate the pastoral visit which His Holiness made to Mexico last year at this time, which continues to be vivid in the memories of all. Those were intense days in which the Mexican faithful once again showed their lively, profound, human and Christian talents and their great affection for the Vicar of Christ.

Today it is especially necessary to live and proclaim to the world the "Gospel of the family and life". In his homily in Chihuahua, the Holy Father reminded everyone that the family is "the first community of life and love; the first environment in which the person learns to love and to feel loved, not only by other persons, but also and most of all, by God" (n. 3). However, it is also subject to the attacks on love and solidarity which are frequent "in a society which is so often marked by the signs of death and hatred such as violence, abortion, euthanasia, the marginalization of the less able, and of people who are poor and less useful" (n. 5).

With the help of God and the maternal aid of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the family continues to occupy a central place in the hierarchy of values of the Mexican people; it continues to be the primary, living cell of society, a place for growing in love and faith. However, we cannot fail to see that the Mexican family is also under attack, with more virulent opposition each day from various ideologies and fashions; they destroy customs and make their influence felt in so many forms of hedonism and an equivocal concept of the well-being of the person and of society itself. Among these forms the widespread anti-life mentality and the practice of sterilization stand out. This subversion of the authentic values of life leads progressively to a "culture of death" which is expressed in initiatives which are meant to promote legislation which fully tolerates the dreadful practice of abortion and even includes euthanasia. Today all this represents a serious attack against the family institution and sums up the problems affecting the Mexican family, which must rebuff them in order to follow the divine plan. In his recent Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus the Supreme Pontiff urges us "to go back to seeing the family as a sanctuary of life. The family is indeed sacred: it is the place in which life - the gift of God - can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life" (n. 39).

It is therefore urgent to proclaim and spread the Gospel of the family and of life. Mexican Catholics have the responsibility of being, by their witness, word and action, an effective leaven within society. They must collaborate generously in the defense and promotion of this "cell of society", this "domestic Church", the family.

Therefore, the celebration of this congress is a valid reason for hope, and it also shows that the message expressed by His Holiness during his second pastoral visit is bearing fruit in this field. In this way there is a happy fulfillment of the exhortation which the Pope expressed in his unforgettable meeting in Veracruz, where he insisted on your "living and proclaiming the Gospel throughout the world, which comes from your history as Mexicans, with its moments of light and darkness, but convinced that your mission is to bear witness to your faith to the whole world" (n. 4).

In sending this message of encouragement to all the people involved in the stability of the family institution and the care of its dignity, the Holy Father prays to the Lord that he may bless the work of this congress with abundant gifts for the good of the Church and society in Mexico. With these desires the Supreme Pontiff entrusts all to the maternal protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and gladly imparts the Apostolic Blessing.

I am pleased to take this opportunity, Your Excellency, to assure you of my consideration and esteem in Christ.

Archbishop Angelo Sodano
Pro-Secretary of State

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