On Saturday June 7, it was made public that Ennio Cardinal Antonelli, Archbishop of Florence, has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be the new President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.His predecessor, Alfonso Cardinal Trujillo, who was said to be “one of the Church’s strongest advocates for life and the family,” passed away on April 21.
Antonelli, who was proclaimed Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003, released a letter the morning of his appointment in which he said he was honored by the appointment and is well aware of the “great responsibility for the decisive importance the family has for the church and for society.”
Antonelli called the family “the cellular base of the church and society…strongly respected at the level of ideals and first among the aspirations of the Italian people,” and added that the family unit finds itself “in great difficulty, threatened, and in crisis.”
He also praised Trujillo, his predecessor, for his “courage to not fear unpopularity.”
During an address on Vatican Radio, the cardinal affirmed that the primary issues families are faced with involve “the unity, the stability of matrimony, and the fruitfulness of couples,” and identified the latter as being witnessed by the “demographic fall [that]…above all in Europe, places the future at risk.”
The Cardinal also called for the Church to “present the Evangelical, positive prospect of the family: its great values, the beauty of the family [as] Christian and also authentically human.
“Above all, the positive needs to stand out,” he said. “Ahead of, above and more than some ‘no’s, counts the ‘yes’ – the great ‘yes’ to life, the great ‘yes’ to the dignity of the person, the great ‘yes’ to communion among the people who form a family.”
In a 2005 Easter pastoral letter, Cardinal Antonelli warned of the excessive time families spend in front of the television and urged parents to make “moderate, critical, vigilant and prudent use of the television,” and to “strictly limit the amount of time dedicated to television,” in order to be “examples of television sobriety.”
He also explained how the television can act as a “powerful means of education or miseducation” for children and “influences their inclinations, affectivity, attitudes and capabilities, anxieties and fears…given that by nature they tend to learn by looking and imitating.”
The Sixth World Meeting of Families in January will be the first major event where Catholics will see Cardinal Antonelli in his new role.