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VATICAN-FAMILY Aug-10-2009 (230 words) xxxi

Traditional family vital for modern society, Vatican official says

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican official sharply criticized a sentence by Italy's highest court that said there was no substantial legal difference between a family founded on marriage and a family resulting from a cohabiting couple.

The sentence by the Court of Cassation cited an "evolution" in thinking about the forms that a family takes in modern society.

The ruling, which concerned a case of theft between an ex-cohabiting couple, was described as "a serious attack on the family" by Giuseppe Dalla Torre, a Catholic legal expert interviewed by Vatican Radio Aug. 8.

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told Vatican Radio that the traditional family was needed more than ever today -- for family members and for society as a whole.

"I view with concern this progressive slide toward a further privatization of the family, as if the family were irrelevant for society," Cardinal Antonelli said.

"Recent sociological research in various countries has highlighted a series of benefits that the so-called traditional family brings to society, and the numerous damages which the supposed new forms of family -- like the single-parent family and cohabitation -- bring to society," he said.

The cardinal added that because marriage is a public commitment, not only before the church but also before society, it promotes a more serious sense of responsibility among those involved.


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