by Hilary White.
VATICAN CITY, September 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new paradigm of family and sexuality, the “synthetic family,” which is increasingly supported and promoted by most governments in the west, is one characterized by profound separation from the ontological and biological reality of procreation, Francesco D’Agostino, President of the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists, said at a Vatican conference this week.
The conference, held the same week that the Italian parliament’s lower house passed the country’s controversial “anti-homophobia” bill, was organized by the Pontifical Council for the family in conjunction with the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists. It commemorated the 30th anniversary of the “Charter of rights of the family” that was presented to the world by Pope John Paul II in 1983.
D’Agostino, who lobbied against the anti-homophobia law, said this morning that the Charter is as necessary now as it was thirty years ago. The difference now, however, is that while in the past the unity of the family was being attacked as an “empirical phenomenon,” in day-to-day life, it is now assaulted at an even more fundamental “ontological” level, as a concept.
This new attack involves “a way of thinking about the family that is no longer able to perceive naturalness and universality (the two dimensions referred to in the preamble of the Charter).” The expression “synthetic family” is needed, he said, to distinguish those many new types of voluntary groupings that are distinct from the “natural family” of a man and a woman in the bond of matrimony for the purpose of procreation.
The natural family, he said, “blends its members in a community where the original positions of each are, to some extent, finally transcended and are therefore not able to be returned to their previous, individual state… While the synthetic family may more properly be compared to a car, assembled according to a project, but whose constituent parts …may be disassembled and reassembled and reused to build another mechanism.”
“Does the synthetic family have a future?” D’Agostino asked. “No, and it cannot have one, because the future belongs to those who have confidence in the future, not only those living in the present who are indifferent to tomorrow.”
But if the synthetic family is ultimately doomed because it is divorced from genuine anthropological realities, it is currently very strong in law and practice: “Just watch the alterations, sometimes deliberate, sometimes unintentional, that it is causing in the natural family” around the world, he said.
Dr. Helen Alvare, an American professor, jurist and activist, said that “profound” is too weak a term to describe what has happened to the family in many western countries in recent decades. The new social paradigm, she said, has forced “divisions between things that are meant to be linked: sex, procreation and marriage”.
“You will quickly notice that when one separates any two of these, the links between all three disappear…Introduced to separate sex and procreation, birth control has subsequently separated sex and marriage, and marriage and procreation as well. No link has been unaffected.”
Alvare, a professor of family law at George Mason University, said that these changes had been made in the name of improving the position of women in society. But in reality have encouraged women to “avoid family roles altogether,” or have simply “subverted or transformed these roles”.
These ideas, while not accepted by all women, have been and remain “prominent” and are “on display at international fora, and brought to bear on less prosperous nations”. Notably, these new social theories, Alvare added, include “shockingly little concern for children’s well-being, despite a great deal of talk about children.”
When they were first put forward, they were promoted as means to “boosting marital freedom and affection and sexual pleasure, and in the name of women’s health” but are now “celebrated outright as something akin to the foundation of women’s freedom, through freedom from children and a commensurate availability for other things, presumably the labor market”.
The advent of artificial contraceptives, no-fault divorce and then legalised abortion, has enabled “sex insured against a baby” which “took the ‘weight’ out of sex for many,” she said. But the result has been a world of radical separation between persons who were once naturally joined.
“Casual sex became the price of a relationship,” and finally, because “risk-free,” casual sex became common, “non-marital pregnancies and births and abortions actually soared instead of declining, after the widespread normalizing of birth control.”