Francis Cardinal Arinze: 'Arise, Rejoice! God is Calling You'
Cardinal Arinze's controversial speech on religion and family, including marriage and "irregular unions."
My dear graduands, allow your religion to give your life its essential and major orientation. In our lives, religion is not something marginal, peripheral, additional, optional. My Catholic faith gives meaning and a sense of direction to my life. It gives it unity. Without it my life would be like an agglomeration of scattered mosaics. It is my religion, for example, that inspires my profession, that teaches me that there is more happiness in giving than in receiving (cf Acts 20:35), that helps me to appreciate that to reach the height of my growth potential, I must learn to give of myself to others as I practice my profession as lawyer, doctor, air hostess, congress member or priest (Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes, 24).
Allow your religion to give life, joy, generosity and a sense of solidarity to your professional and social engagements. In a world of religious plurality, you will of course learn to cooperate with people of other religious convictions. True religion teaches not exclusion, rivalry, tension, conflict or violence, but rather openness, esteem, respect and harmony. At the same time you should keep intact your religious identity, your distinction as a witness of Jesus Christ.
2. Thank God for the Gift of the Family.
As I see joy and just pride reflected on the faces of the parents and friends of these graduands, I think of God's goodness in giving the gift of the family to humanity.
It is God himself who willed that a man and a woman should come to establish a permanent bond in marriage. Marriage gives rise to the family. In this fundamental cell of society, love grows. There the exercise of sexuality has its correct locus. There human maturity is nurtured. There new life utters its first cry and later smiles at the parents. There the child is first introduced to religion. Is it any wonder that the Second Vatican Council called the family "the church of the home" (cf. Lumen Gentium, 11)?
In many parts of the world, the family is under siege. It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce.
But the family has friends too. It is nourished and lubricated by mutual love, strengthened by sacrifice and healed by forgiveness and reconciliation. The family is blessed with new life, kept united by family prayer and given a model in the Holy Family of Nazareth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Christian families are moreover blessed by the Church in the name of Christ and fed by the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. It was beautiful that at the beatification of Mr and Mrs Luigi and Maria Beltrame-Quattrocchi in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City on October 21, 2001, three of their children were present.