ON-Lion Letter
With families in Europe facing new and greater challenges, the inaugural European Catholic-Orthodox Forum, held in December in Trento, Italy, focused on "The Family:  A Good for Humanity."  At the forum, for the first time, 17 prominent clerics from throughout the continent considered their common vision of family values and offered a joint pastoral plan to uphold them. 

According to a joint statement released at its end, the forum's purpose was "not to discuss theological issues that are treated at other levels.  Our task rather is to concentrate on anthropological issues of crucial importance for the present and future of humanity.  The goal of the forum is to help define common positions on social and moral questions." 

Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria told the forum that backsliding on traditional family values "has not only drastically changed the image of the Western civilization," but has also created "an impassable gulf between the Western civilizations and those ones which keep the traditional family and sexual ethics." 

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Monsignor Grzegorz Kaszak, decried the imposition of anti-family ideologies.  "These challenges are sufficient reason to motivate us to carry out common actions in defense of matrimony and the family against various attacks," he said.

Among other things, according to the joint statement, the clerics agreed that:  1.) "[t]here is a most urgent need to rediscover the understanding of the family and marriage;" 2.) "it is only in relationship to God that all human beings blossom in their full humanity;" 3.) "since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them;" and, 4.) public policies should be "consistent with establishing and maintaining a family with dignity."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supported the forum, which was sponsored by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe.
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