the area of moral discernment. In response, we
need to provide an education which teaches crit-
ical thinking and encourages the development of
mature moral values.
65. Despite the tide of secularism which has
swept our societies, in many countries – even
those where Christians are a minority – the Catho-
lic Church is considered a credible institution by
public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and
concern for those in greatest need. Again and
again, the Church has acted as a mediator in find-
ing solutions to problems affecting peace, social
harmony, the land, the defence of life, human
and civil rights, and so forth. And how much
good has been done by Catholic schools and uni-
versities around the world! This is a good thing.
Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that
when we raise other questions less palatable to
public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity
to precisely the same convictions about human
dignity and the common good.
66. The family is experiencing a profound
cultural crisis, as are all communities and social
bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening
of these bonds is particularly serious because the
family is the fundamental cell of society, where
we learn to live with others despite our differ-
ences and to belong to one another; it is also the
place where parents pass on the faith to their
children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as
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