In addressing a group of Lithuanian bishops Monday, Pope Francis made reference to their country’s recent full entry into the European Union. Instead of congratulating them, however, the Pope warned them of ideological threats to the family they would now be facing.
As of January 1, 2015 Lithuania is the latest entry into full membership in the European Union, which includes the adoption of the euro in lieu of a national currency.
“Your country,” the Pope said, “which has now entered fully into the European Union, is exposed to the influence of ideologies that would like to introduce elements of destabilization of families, which is fruit of a mistaken sense of personal freedom.”
Francis encouraged the bishops to stay close to families so that they would “not be conformed to the mentality of this world.”
The European Parliament, in fact, has often been accused of introducing anti-family legislation that in some cases runs counter to the laws of the individual European nations. This includes several attempts to force EU countries to recognize same-sex marriage, as well as pushing so-called “reproductive rights,” including abortion.
In 2008, for instance, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs introduced a motion that would have done away with “exceptions” relating to marital and family status “in the area of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people rights.”
In November 2003, members of the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) sought to resurrect an anti-life and anti-family motion on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights known as the Estrela report. The motion sought to do away with conscientious objection in the case of abortion and to impose compulsory “relationship education” for school-aged children.
A similar motion was introduced in January, 2014, under the title of “Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.” This motion called education of children in gender equality and an EU-wide recognition of homosexual unions.
On Monday, the Pope reminded the bishops that the whole Church is in a process of reflection on the family—“its beauty, its value and the challenges it is called to face in our time,” he said.
“Your centuries-old Lithuanian family traditions will help you to respond to these challenges according to faith and reason,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.