Thank you for giving me the floor to express, once again, the importance I attach to the family and its defense. At the moment, a battle is being fought between two models: that of a dehumanized world and that of a society — we should say, a civilization — that gives man his full place.
It is not a matter of making a choice between two conceptions that are equal — that is, man as an object, a submissive, a slave of an excessive globalization, and man as that which institutions help to elevate and build, that is to say, man as a subject of rights. It is a matter of rejecting one in order to promote the other. This is the purpose of the meetings of the World Congress of Families (WCF) — and, therefore, their importance.
We must, indeed, get out of that ambiguity in which Western societies have lived for too long, based on a certain skepticism and relativism. Both have led to dead ends. Christian teaching, the foundation of our societies, is there to remind us that there is no place for two truths.
But what has been done with this message over the past two centuries? It has been permanently undermined, religion often being presented as a source of oppression or even “opium” of the people. But who came up with these ideas? Those who led to ‘the Terrors’ and the totalitarianisms. Now that historians have regained a certain freedom of thought, Marx — who had long been exalted — is now only a man leading to a hundred million victims accumulated around the world. Sad record. Ideologies can kill!
But history tells us that excess always leads to a healthy reaction. Do we not see it coming now? It involves families everywhere who are beginning to react in many different ways. There it is — by taking back its natural rights to educate and instruct; by recreating structures for early childhood, for the elderly, or disabled; there, by asserting itself, as in France today, to regain a decent standard of living and not be overwhelmed by multiple taxes and regulations that make sense only for those who develop them.
This return to reality is led by families. It is they who must be encouraged — by giving them a clear framework for action.
This involves three points: the recognition of the family as the basic unit of society, the recognition from which others will flow: the commune, working communities (whether manual or intellectual), up to the State, which may or may not encourage families.
This framework must then exalt life in all its expressions — that is, it must reject that which destroys it before birth, as in recent years. We must ensure that our children, as well as those who preceded us, are assured of a peaceful existence.
Finally, the third pillar of a balanced society is that of justice, which must be maintained to guarantee society a balance between its members. We know that there will always be strong and weak; but good governance is one that allows the strong to exercise their talents and the weak not to be oppressed. ‘Everyone in his rightful place’ is the secret of a balanced society.
The France of the ancien régime understood this and the kings, my ancestors, generation after generation, have always had at heart to ensure that this justice, which was their first duty, was respected. Breaking this balance by giving priority not to eternal law but to contingent law that majorities of chance and circumstance can change — is what has led our societies into a deadlock.
It’s time for them to get out [of that deadlock]. A meeting like this one will contribute to this by allowing everyone to get to know each other better, to help each other in their mutual practices, and above all to regain hope for the future. This hope, which is also inscribed in the genes of Christian society, is what helps us all.
May Saint Louis, my grandfather, inspire our leaders — and may the Holy Family remain the icon that guides us.