The Permanent Observer to the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva Archbishop Silvano Tomasi during he 26th session of the Human Rights council in Geneva delivered an uncompromising statement on the importance of the family founded upon marriage, between a man and a woman, which he said must be defended and promoted, not only by the state but by society as a whole.
Archbishop Tomasi commenced his address by drawing attention to the UN celebration of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, which took place May 15 under the theme “Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals.”
The choice of theme, according to the Archbishop, had a strong relationship to Resolution 2012/10, adopted by ECOSOC that stressed the need ‘for undertaking concerted actions to strengthen family-centered policies and programs as part of an integrated, comprehensive approach to development.’
Archbishop Tomasi then adverted to, ‘strong debates in the Council chamber often lead states to conclude that the family is more of a problem than a resource to society.’ And went on to say that the Holy See delegation believes that despite past or even current challenges, the family is in fact the fundamental unit of human society. It continually, he said, exhibits a vigor, much greater than that of the many forces that have tried to eliminate it as a relic of the past, or an obstacle to the emancipation of the individual, or to the creation of a freer, egalitarian and happy society.
The archbishop continued by saying that the ‘family and society, which are mutually linked by vital and organic bonds, have complementary functions in the defense and advancement of the good of every person and of humanity. The dignity and rights of the individual are not diminished by the attention given to the family. On the contrary, most people find unique protection, nurture, and dynamic energy from their membership in a strong and healthy family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman. Moreover, ample evidence has demonstrated that the best interest of the child is assured in a harmonious family environment in which the education and formation of children develop within the context of lived experience with both male and female parental role models.”
The family is the fundamental cell of society where the generations meet, love, educate, support each other, and pass on life, through natural means, from age to age, “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.” This understanding of the family has been embraced throughout history by all cultures. Thus, with good reason the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized unique, profound, and uncompromising rights and duties for the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, by declaring as follows: (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Archbishop Tomasi concluded by saying:
Mr President, during this historic anniversary observance, the Holy See Delegation firmly maintains that the family is a whole and integral unit, which should not be divided up or subjected to isolation of one or another member – nor should it be marginalized. The family and marriage need to be defended and promoted not only by the State but also by the whole of society. Both require the decisive commitment of every person because it is starting from the family and marriage that a complete answer can be given to the challenges of the present and the risks of the future. This way forward is indicated in the fundamental human rights and related conventions that ensure the universality of these rights and whose binding valus need to be preserved and protected by the international community.