allowed CFC to undergo a crisis in 2007
in order to sharpen our focus regarding
our particular charism, vision and mission.
Now we are CFC-FFL, committed to renew
the family and defend life. Family and
life are the crucial aspects of mission
during this third millennium. The enemy
focuses his attacks on the areas of family
and life. This is the final conflict before
the Lord returns once again.
CFC was born during the pontificate of
John Paul II. We have been much influenced
and formed by his thought and teaching.
Since he is considered the "Pope
of the family and of life," we can
consider him our patron (soon-to-be) saint.
One of my favorite quotes came from him,
that "the future of humanity passes
by way of the family." Thus we do
our work of evangelization, within the
context of family and life, and do our
share in ensuring a future full of hope
for all humanity.
Challenging Defense of Life and Family
Posthumous Interview With Cardinal López
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).-
The Church has always
championed the cause for life and the
family, and several Catholics spent
their lives fighting for these fundamental
Alfonso López Trujillo was one
of these champions as the president of
the Pontifical Council for the Family,
a post he held from 1990 up until his
death on April 19, 2008.
he died, the cardinal gave an interview
to Juan Manuel Estrella, which remained
unpublished until now.
interview published by ZENIT shares the
words of the prelate as he reflects on
the work to defend the family, the providential
nature of "Evangelium Vitae,"
and the roles of John Paul II and Benedict
XVI in this realm.
Q: How and why did the Servant of God
John Paul II institute the Pontifical
Council for the Family, a few years after
having been elected Successor of Peter?
Cardinal López Trujillo: The day
of the assassination attempt in St. Peter's
Square, John Paul II erected the Pontifical
Council for the Family in the morning.
is why I have said that our council had
a sort of baptism of blood. Its creation
was, without a doubt, a clear fruit of
the Synod of the Family and, specifically,
of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris
Consortio," which was the first he
wrote based on the synodal propositions
and which, very enriched, represented
a sort of Magna Carta not only on the
family but also on our council.
is worthwhile remembering that Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger was the General Relator.
We could say it was the first "teamwork"
between John Paul II and today's Benedict
had the honor of being elected one of
the relators of the minor circles, specifically
the Hispanic-Portuguese circle, and I
worked very closely with him.
The family dicastery was born from the
Pontifical Council for the Laity, in which
there was a commission that Cardinal Karol
Wojtyla belonged to; he was very experienced
in this subject as archbishop of Krakow,
both in the theological as well as the
pastoral dimensions. He had an institute
for the family that operated in the archbishopric's
palace itself, which offered courses beginning
in the month of April, taking advantage
of the spring and part of the summer.
Our council, hence, was in seed and gestation.
fundamental is the question of marriage
and the family and so fundamental its
defined importance for society
that it went beyond the possibilities
and limits of the Council for the Laity.
own areas, in keeping with "Familiaris
Consortio," are immense: the
family and life.
are the subjects entrusted to it by the
Successor of Peter and it made its first
public launching, ad extra, faced to the
world, people and humanity's common good,
in keeping with something stressed by
the Compendium of the Social Doctrine
of the Pontifical Council for Justice
Questions such as the family as a social
subject, with its peculiar sovereignty
and also its political tasks, show the
vast field that has been confirmed as
central, in an "ad extra" pastoral
program and not just "ad intra,"
conceived as something intra-ecclesial.
Our council was an intuition of the Pope,
as was the institute that bears his name
and, much later, the Pontifical Academy
for Life, which is not a dicastery of
the Roman Curia and which is at the service
of the dicastery for Health Care Ministry
and the dicastery for the Family.
My attention was caught by how the commission
for the family in France now links clearly
to society, and in its coordination scheme
gives it a new name, something like "the
family and the societal," which is
difficult to translate.
has shown that John Paul II's intuition
was a great step forward.
Q: What year were you called to preside
over the dicastery? Why did the Servant
of God, John Paul II, think of you? Do
you think it was because of your participation
as Secretary General in the 3rd CELAM
[the Latin American bishops' council]
Cardinal López Trujillo: I began
my service in November of 1990. The Holy
Father asked me to come to Rome to discuss
the issue and I returned to my archdiocese
already committed, as I understood that
I could not refuse this collaboration,
although it represented a change and a
challenge for me; and the Pope did not
hide from me the difficult task of the
the moment of my acceptance I myself did
not imagine the size of the challenge
or its difficulties and possibilities.
Cardinal Edouard Gagnon had laid a good
The call to serve in the Pontifical Council
for the Family was a surprise for me and
an interesting challenge.
collaborate with the Pope is always a
privilege and a change. To come to Rome
from a large diocese [Medellin, Colombia],
with a numerous curia (around 400 people,
as we concentrate in it the institutions
of the local Church), to a small dicastery
was a contrast at the beginning. Outside
we had many collaborators, thank God.
I don't know the reason why the Holy Father
appointed me. I have never asked for anything.
I knew the Holy Father first as secretary
general and later as president of CELAM
and of the episcopal conference of Colombia
and I had many opportunities to visit
I did so with greater frequency because
I belonged to several dicasteries. I had
done some work on the family. For example,
I established the episcopal vicariate
of the family, and I started an institute
of the family in the Pontifical Bolivarian
University of Medellin.
CELAM we created first a secretariat of
the family and later the corresponding
thank the Pope for the trust placed in
a poor bishop created cardinal by him,
knowing his love
for the "cause" of the family
and life, which so distinguished
his formidable pontificate.
dedicated so much effort, time and determined
enthusiasm to it, which was really contagious.
Q: The encyclical letter "Evangelium
Vitae" was published in the year
1995. What was your participation in it?
Did Pope John Paul II ask you to collaborate
Cardinal López Trujillo: As is
well known, "Evangelium Vitae"
originated in an Extraordinary Consistory
of the College of Cardinals, which requested
that the Holy Father address -- with a
high-level Papal document, which in fact
was an encyclical -- the proclamation
of God's gift of human life, as good news
worthy of being proclaimed, defended,
and fully assumed in a culture of life.
took place after having examined the situation
in the world that offered negative, worrying,
threatening features, which reflected
a culture of death as a widespread aggression
underway, above all against the category
of the weakest and poorest. This was the
origin of "Evangelium Vitae."
Pope took such a decisive question into
his hands and personally consulted bishops
personal response of the bishops in this
historical consultation, to my knowledge
unprecedented in the last pontificates
for an encyclical, was studied with due
this study our council had the honor of
receiving the confidence of the Successor
of Peter of supporting him in the study
of the answers that provided, so to speak,
the primary material for "Evangelium
Vitae." Then John Paul II followed,
under his personal care, the different
stages and contributions of those who
collaborated, in close dependence on the
Pope, in the elaboration.
Our Pontifical Council for the Family
was very active and close in collaboration
with the substitute of the State Secretariat,
in the whole process and in the moments
of greatest significance.
with the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith we offered our collaboration
in the course of the years of preparation
on the subjects and points that were personally
followed by the Holy Father. I was also
present in the consultation of some thirty
bishops of the world gathered in Rome
for some issues.
care was taken to weigh the different
questions and, together with Cardinal
Ratzinger, I had the task of presenting
"Evangelium Vitae" to the media.
The lessons of what happened with the
encyclical "Humanae Vitae,"
whose contents were assumed by John Paul
II, were useful.
In an advanced moment of its preparation,
given the doubt that some would introduce
the idea of the sufficiency of the "Letter
to Families" and that a new document
might be unnecessary, I supported the
Pope in his renewed decision that the
encyclical was necessary and obeyed a
clear desire expressed first by the College
of Cardinals and later by the concert
of the bishops of the world.
coordinated the first comments in the
Pontifical Council for the Family, though
they were published by the Academy for
Life, which had just been established.
"Evangelium Vitae" is clearly
part of the theological domain of the
family, otherwise the mission and understanding
of marriage and the family would be drastically
was our joy when this encyclical was published,
after appropriate preparation and a difficult
Today we have this precious instrument
to which the Pope committed himself personally.
The repercussion was immense, and a beautiful
legacy, which Benedict XVI, who collaborated
closely with its preparation, receives
and proposes to encourage without beating
about the bush, as we see, together with
the priority of the family.
Vitae" is providential, especially
today in the parliamentary realm, with
so much progress in science but with an
"absolutism" lamented by Cardinal
Ratzinger, which pretends not to know
the limits and to ignore moral principles
is canceled from social life and this
does not happen with impunity, as there
is an attempt against the principles of
truth of every society.
sense of law is turned upside down and
arrives at the height of confusion that
dehumanizes man, by converting crime into
law, as denounced in "Evangelium
Vitae," or as Cardinal Ratzinger
said, when the state arrogates to itself
is overturned and "accepting in fact
that as the rights of the weakest are
violated, accepted also is that the right
of force prevail over the force of law"
(L'Europa de Benedetto nella Crisi della
Cultural, ed. Cantagalli, pp. 68-69).
Q: As president of the Pontifical Council
for the Family, what message for the family
do you draw from the precious and fruitful
legacy of the Servant of God John Paul
II? Can John Paul II be defined as "the
Pope of Life?" Have you ever described
Cardinal López Trujillo: His teaching
and his life, linked in such admirable
consistency, are a gift for the Church
and for humanity.
fidelity to his mission was a message
to the world.
Often certain Vatican "experts,"
not always lucid and objective, have attempted
to introduce an opposition between John
Paul II's openness to human rights, to
the cause of the liberty of peoples, to
the social realm, on one hand, and on
the other, the Pope closed and intolerant
on issues of the family, life, sexual
morality, which gave no space to abortion,
to contraception, and did not yield to
pressures (impossible to be successful)
on divorce, divorced persons who remarry,
little penetration in the exigencies of
the faith and in obedience to the Church,
they create the confusion of thinking
that on these subjects options to the
letter can be made. They are not optional
Pope did not seek to spare himself incomprehension
and being accused, including by some fanciful
theologians and groups with a minimum
of ecclesial attunement.
was a wonderful lesson: The worldwide
tribute of the faithful and of non-Christians
and non-believers were not seduced by
this artificial dichotomy.
multitudes saw in him a man in love with
the integral truth as a servant of Christ.
People felt questioned by the Bible.
life and death of this faithful servant
were and are an evangelization.
In the World Meeting of Families in the
Year of the Family I greeted him as the
"Pope of the
family and of life." I think
this struck deeply in many.
is true that the Pontiff, who had come
from Poland, was outstanding in so many
fields, and that expressions can be multiplied
that do not exhaust the wealth of his
his extraordinary contribution to the
Gospel of the family and life was certainly
before had a Pontiff proclaimed so vigorously
and assiduously this Gospel that resonated
everywhere in the world. The whole of
his teaching is monumental and a sure
path, not only for Catholics.
We must receive with gratitude the teaching
for which the Pope spent himself, without
trimming it or engaging in comfortable
Pontifical Council for the Family has
sought to be faithful in this, without
curtailing energies and difficulties.
times he told me that we should go against
the current. In this sense, he entrusted
a difficult dicastery to me, always situated
in the eye of the hurricane, on almost
all the topics, because many do not understand
that behind the appearances of rigor and
incomprehension there is an abundance,
immense as the Iguazu Falls, of the search
for respect for human dignity, true love,
which springs as a gift from the heart
of God who loves us and saves us in the
truth is configured with the profiles
of the face of Christ. Therefore, it is
a truth made life in the Incarnate Word.
believe this message is called to change
those who make room for the Gospel in
their life. And this is possible despite
the confusion of so many governments and
parliaments, which will be attracted by
the splendor of the truth.
to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."