Professor Notes Gaps in Basic Concepts About Person

Course Aims to Reveal Treasure of Magisterium

Editor's note: This article illuminates the root cause of conflicts over the protection of human life from conception to natural death, and over the meaning and purpose of marriage, family and human sexuality. The root is a fundamental difference in understanding of what it means to be a human person. It points out the importance of understanding Catholic social teaching and Christian anthropology to develop a fuller understanding of who we are and what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God, who is a community of three persons in a relationship of love. Helping people develop this understanding is a key part of the mission of Catholics for the Common Good.

By Miriam Díez i Bosch

Base of Human Rights:
Being Human

ROME, JAN. 28, 2008 ( In a culture where basic concepts about the human person are being lost, study of the magisterium's teaching on life, family and education is increasingly necessary, said a professor from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

Marca Brancatisano directs a course on the Christian culture of the family and education at the Roman university. She told ZENIT that the course seeks to clarify basic concepts about the human person, given that marriage, family and sexual identity are less understood in today's world.

The course covers the teaching of the magisterium from the Second Vatican Council to the present, including documents like Pope John Paul II's 1981 "Familiaris Consortio" and Benedict XVI's 2005 "Deus Caritas Est."

"According to the anthropology proposed by revelation, the human being is man and woman," Brancatisano explained. "Both are equal in humanity and distinct in sexual identity to complement one another in a relationship so total and perfect that it is the point of similarity with God who is love."

The course aims to present, according to perspectives proposed by various sciences, "the feminine and masculine identity, the meaning of the union of love and the way to carry it out among the contradictions and difficulties proper to fallen and redeemed humanity," she said.

Generation to generation

Brancatisano explained that concepts about life and relationship were normally learned from the family and culture. When that learning is lacking, courses like hers become more necessary.

"To live, making conscious and free decisions day by day, it is necessary to have knowledge of oneself and the situation in which one is immersed. It is necessary to adopt guidelines and to recognize oneself on a scale of values that give meaning and efficacy to our actions," she said. "Normally this knowledge is transmitted -- and is proven true -- in the relationship between generations, between parents and children.

"If daily examples are lacking, in an age like ours in which the time to be together as a family is always decreasing, then study is undoubtedly useful and perhaps more necessary than in other situations."

"I am convinced that in a situation like the current one, with much confusion about life themes that for millennia had been shared peacefully -- and the most significant examples are marriage, family, even sexual identity -- the first and irreplaceable step consists in clarifying basic data of knowledge, in our case, revealed anthropology," Brancatisano said.

Though the concepts explained during the course are based in Christian humanism, Brancatisano explained that they "unite people of different cultural education and of other creeds."

"Christian culture answers the question about who man is and who woman is and therefore about the meaning and value of their union in the order of creation," she affirmed. "In recent decades, the magisterium has offered an illuminating reflection about these themes. It is necessary to popularize more this treasure that is still hidden."

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