In his May 18 column for the archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles reflected on the meaning and importance of marriage, especially for children. His words were timed to anticipate the seventh annual World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Milan, Italy from May 30 to June 3, 2012. In his column, Archbishop Gomez made use of an uncommon-sounding concept called “human ecology,” a phrase used by both our current and former popes. The Archbishop writes,
“We need to restore the vital sense of what Pope Benedict and Blessed John Paul II before him called the ‘human ecology.’ We need to help our brothers and sisters see that the family rooted in marriage is the natural sanctuary of life and civilization.”
In Pope Benedict’s encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, the Holy Father explained “human ecology” by describing the “book of nature” as “one and indivisible”: “it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development” (no. 51). In other words, just as “environmental ecology” brings to mind the interconnectedness of all of creation, such that damaging or ruining one aspect affects the whole, the phrase human ecology highlights the organic interconnectedness of the human person in his own identity and lifespan (conception to natural death) as well as his built-in relationship to other persons, particularly to his father and mother, and to creation as a whole.
Archbishop Gomez goes on to highlight the crucial importance that marriage plays in the life of children, who are the “supreme gift” of marriage (Gaudium et Spes, 50):
“Children have a right to grow up in a home with the mother and father who gave them life and who promised to share their lives forever. They have a right to be born in a family founded on marriage. Where they can discover their true identity, dignity and potential. Where they can learn in love the meaning of truth, beauty and goodness.”
Because of the need children have for their own mother and father, whenever possible, the Archbishop laments the fact that “our debates today [about marriage] are focused only on adults and their desires for their relationships. There is very little concern for children.” He goes on saying, “This is sad. Because they will be the ‘subjects’ of all our social experiments. They will bear the consequences of all our new ways of defining what it means to be ‘married’ or to be ‘parents’ or to be a ‘family’.”
Respecting the human ecology inherent in each and every human person, and in the communion of all of us together, means respecting the foundational bonds between father, mother, and child, as well as the importance of marriage as the foundation on which the family is built.
Read Archbishop Gomez’s entire article: “The ‘human ecology’ of marriage and family”