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Beyond the Traditional Family

In many countries today, the traditional family consisting of a heterosexual married couple with children is becoming less dominant, as same-sex marriage, co-parenting, and single-parent child-rearing spread. Are these trends really as dangerous as a document signed last month by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar suggests?

MELBOURNE/WARSAW – Last month, Pope Francis traveled to Abu Dhabi, where he met Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (Al-Azhar University is the leading Sunni institution for the study of Islamic law). The two religious leaders signed a “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” calling on their adherents, as well as world leaders, to spread tolerance and peace and to end “the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.”

One aspect of this supposed moral and cultural decline concerns the family: “To attack the institution of the family, to regard it with contempt or to doubt its important role,” the Pope and the Grand Imam state, “is one of the most threatening evils of our era.” The document asserts that the family is the “fundamental nucleus of society and humanity” and “is essential in bringing children into the world, raising them, educating them, and providing them with solid moral formation and domestic security.”

Their anxiety is understandable: in many countries today, the traditional family consisting of a heterosexual married couple with children is becoming less dominant. But is this really a bad thing?

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