Catholic Church to define family terms

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    By Christine Patterson

    The Vatican is scheduled to release a 1,000 page “Lexicon of the Family” this month.

    The Catholic Church”s Pontifical Council for the Family expressed hopes that the lexicon will remove ambiguity from terms like “gender” and “reproductive health,” according to a Vatican news release.

    “It”s always a good thing when any church can shed light on the misuse of words,” said William Ryan, a spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Especially when they have a vested interest in their meanings.”

    Religious scholars at BYU agree.

    “Anytime someone can help people understand their perspective, it”s a good thing,” said Matthew Richardson, associate dean of religious education.

    The Vatican organized a group of international experts four years ago to construct a list of words that hide debatable objectives, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo said in a news statement.

    Trajillo said the lexicon is needed to put a halt to the family-linguistic conspiracy he believes is occurring.

    “The Catholics are taking a stand by clarifying issues through this Lexicon,” said Richard Draper, managing director of publications for the BYU religious studies center. “We do much the same thing through the publication of First Presidency messages and conference addresses.”

    Latter-day Saints should, like Catholics, be conscious of verbiage and what is being said, so they can read between the lines and understand issues, Draper said.

    Mormon.org, an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a glossary of terms and a topical index.

    Richardson believes that reference books like the McMillin edition of “Encyclopedia of Mormonism” are helpful to the church because misunderstood terms can often relate to a general misconception of the church.

    “Sometimes, in our world, from our perspective, we think everyone speaks our language,” Richardson said.

    The new lexicon may prove valuable not only politically, but also as an objective source of information for those who may not understand Catholic use of language.

    “No one was ever hurt by the truth,” Ryan said.

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