The Partnership of the Family
This was written by one of our very own participants, Agnus-Marie. Great insight and analysis based on
Blessed Pope John Paul II’s papal encyclical “Familiaris Consortio” and his Theology of the Body. A great read! Here it is in it’s entirety.
Thoughts? Leave a comment down below.
The Partnership of the Family
“Knowing that marriage and the family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the Church wishes to speak and offer her help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully, to those who are uncertain and anxious and searching for the truth, and to those who are unjustly impeded from living freely their family lives.”
Familiaris Consortio, no. 1
When referring to scripture, it can be interpreted that God’s primary concern about man was regarding the human family, for “It [was] not good for man to be alone” and the very ‘first commandment’ was to “Increase and multiply.”
Tracing documents of the Catholic Church, the next written word on the Christian family was promulgated by Pope Leo XIII in 1880 with Arcanum, the Encyclical on Christian Marriage.
In it the beginning and foundation of the family is acknowledged to be the union between a man and woman and “this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time.”
A century later, Familiaris Consortio, given by Pope John Paul II on November 22, 1981, was an answer to a request made by bishops who had attended a synod on the family that occurred the previous year. Being presented by a list of propositiones, John Paul II produced an apostolic exhortation according to the bishops’ suggestions, but had also made it his own by including the essences of his previous works into the document. In this analysis of the letter on the Role of the Christian family in the Modern World, those works of John Paul II along with other resources will be used in a comparative study mainly to passages in the second and third parts of the document where correlation is found. So as not to take away from the significance of the first and last parts of the exhortation however, the main ideas of each passage of the document, proposed as an outline in Covenant of Love
, can be found in the Appendix.
Part I: The Document
- Outline of Content
|Introduction (nos. 1-3)The Church at the Service of the FamilyThe Synod of 1980 in Continuity with Preceding Synods
The Precious Value of Marriage and of the Family
Part One: Bright Spots and Shadows for the Family Today (nos. 4-10)
The Need to Understand the Situation
The Situation of the Family in the World Today
The Influence of Circumstances on the Consciences of the Faithful
Our Age Needs Wisdom
Gradualness and Conversion
Part Two: The Plan of God for Marriage and the Family (nos. 11-16)
Man, the Image of God Who Is Love
Marriage and Communion Between God and People
Jesus Christ, Bridegroom of the Church, and the Sacrament of Matrimony
Children, the Precious Gift of Marriage
The Family, a Communion of Persons
Marriage and Virginity or Celibacy
Part Three: The Role of the Christian Family (nos. 17-64)
Family, Become What You Are
I – Forming a Community of Persons
Love as the Principle and Power of Communion
The Indivisible Unity of Conjugal Communion
An Indissoluble Communion
The Broader Communion of the Family
The Rights and Role of Women
Women and Society
Offenses Against Women’s Dignity
Men as Husbands and Fathers
The Rights of Children
The Elderly in the Family
II – Serving Life
Cooperators in the Love of God the Creator
The Church’s Teaching and Norm, Always Old Yet Always New
The Church Stands for Life
That God’s Design May Be Ever More Completely Fulfilled
In an Integral Vision of the Human Person and of His or Her Vocation
The Church as Teacher and Mother for Couples in Difficulty
The Moral Progress of Married People
Instilling Conviction and Offering Practical Help
The Right and Duty of Persons Regarding Education
Educating in the Essential Values of Human Life
The Mission to Educate and the Sacrament of Marriage
First Experience of the Church
Relations with Other Educating Agents
III – Participating in the Development of Society
The Family as the First and Vital Cell of Society
Family Life as an Experience of Communion and Sharing
The Social and Political Role
Society at the Service of the Family
The Charter of Family Rights
The Christian’s Famliy’s Grace and Responsibility
For a New International Order
IV – Sharing in the Life and Mission of the Church
The Family, Within the Mystery of the Church
A Specific and Original Ecclesial Role
Faith as the Discovery and Admiring Awareness of God’s Plan for the Family
The Christian Family’s Ministry of Evangelization
To Preach the Gospel to the Whole Creation
The Church’s Sanctuary in the Home
Marriage as a Sacrament of Mutual Sanctification and an Act of Worship
Marriage and the Eucharist
The Sacrament of Conversion and Reconciliation
Educators in Prayer
Liturgical Prayer and Private Prayer
Prayer and Life
3. The Christian Family
The New Commandment of Love
To Discover the Image of God in Each Brother and Sister
Part Four: Pastoral Care of the Family: Stages, Structures, Agents and Situations (nos. 65-85)
I – Stages of Pastoral Care of the Family
The Church Accompanies the Christian Family on Its Journey Through Life
Preparation for Marriage
Celebration of Marriage and Evangelization of Non-believing Baptized Persons
Pastoral Care After Marriage
II – Structures of Family Pastoral Care
The Ecclesial Community and in Particular the Parish
Associations of Families for Families
III – Agents of the Pastoral Care of the Family
Bishops and Priests
Men and Women Religious
Recipients and Agents of Social Communications
IV – Pastoral Care of the Family In Difficult Cases
Pastoral Action in Certain Irregular Situations
a) Trial Marriages
b) De Facto Free Unions
c) Catholics in Civil Marriages
d) Separated or Divorced Persons Who Have Not Remarried
e) Divorced Persons Who Have Remarried
Those Without a Family
CONCLUSION (no. 86)
1.2 Overview, Highlights, and Commentary
Familiaris Consortio is an apostolic exhortation, a letter addressed to the Church by the pope as an encouragement to take a particular action. Since apostolic exhortations do not define the development of doctrine, they are lower in authority than encyclicals (as well as apostolic letters) but higher in authority than common declarations.
The exhortation opens with the observation that in the modern world, the family is not free to live as it was established to be. The Church therefore offers her services to those who wish to faithfully live out the value of marriage and family as well as to the young, “who are beginning their journey towards marriage and family life … helping them to discover the beauty and grandeur of the vocation to love and the service of life.”
The document is divided into four parts, the first portion identifying the highs and lows, the “[b]right spots and shadows for the family today.”
There is a call for a better understanding of the situation that faces the Christian family, as well as the recommendation to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Church in
how they carry out their daily lives.
From “Part Two: The Plan of God for Marriage and the Family” emerges the teachings Pope John Paul II had given during the general audiences from 1979 to 1984 on a series called “Theology of the Body”, as well as from an earlier publication, Love and Responsibility, written when Karol Wojtyla was still Bishop of Kraków. In both a Wednesday audience and in Familiaris Consortio John Paul II makes apparent that Man was created in the image of God who is love, and so takes part in God’s love:
the narrative of the creation of man affirms directly, right from the beginning, that man was created in the image of God as male and female. The narrative of the second chapter, on the other hand, does not speak of the “image of God.” But in its own way it reveals that the complete and definitive creation of “man” (subjected first to the experience of original solitude) is expressed in giving life to that communio personarum that man and woman form.
God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.
The communion of love between God and His people is most closely manifested on earth in the example of the communion of persons between man and woman in marriage.
Another comparison of the love between man and woman is made with the image of the love between Christ and the Church: “Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross.”
Tertullian once described the bond between two believers, when joined together by the Church and blessed by the Father, to be truly one in spirit and flesh, with no separation; as the relationship between Christ and the Church is profoundly undivorceable, so is the utmost indissoluble manner of marriage.
As the function of marriage is both procreative and unitive, children are a gift of love that make parents cooperators with God in creating new life. “Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother.”
When two become three or more, the very first commandment of God is fulfilled, taking part not only in the communion of persons of a human family, but also the larger Communion of Saints which is the Church.
Part Three, the longest portion of Familiaris Consortio, elucidates the role of the Christian family. In the same manner that Cardinal Wojtyla had stated concerning the Second Vatican Council, “Church, what do you say of yourself?,”
Pope John Paul II addresses the family to “become what you are”: “And since in God’s plan it has been established as an “intimate community of life and love,” the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love.”
Concomitantly while being a community of life and love, the family is also commissioned to form a community of persons, to serve life, to participate in the development of society, and share in the life and mission of the Church.
In the first task, the word “communion” is used practically in all its headings before it delves into the specific roles of each member of the family. The description of conjugal communion as “a mutual gift of two persons, [an] intimate union, as well as the good of children, imposes total fidelity on the spouses and argues for an unbreakable oneness between them” which originates from Gaudium et Spes, makes obvious the truthfulness that conjugal actions strengthen loyalty and increases unity between the married couple.
Because the procreative and unitive meaning of matrimony are so integrated into each other, to have one without the other is an abomination of the Sacrament:
When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as “arbiters” of the divine plan and they “manipulate” and degrade human sexuality-and with it themselves and their married partner-by altering its value of “total” self-giving. Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.
Both John Paul II and Paul VI recognize however, by resorting to the periods of infertility, non-conception is a consequence of natural means and thus there is a respect for total self-giving in which there is no manipulation. The couple remains to be ministers of God’s plan while still benefiting from their sexuality.
The second task of serving life not only indicates a dedication to the transmission of life but also to the education of it. By recognizing parents as the “first and foremost educators of … children,”
education in love is seen as self-giving insomuch that it is an “indispensable premise [that] parents … give their children a clear and delicate sex education.”
By parents giving education on sexuality to their own children, there is no presentation of mediocrity or degradation to that enrichment of the whole person but instead there is guidance towards the giving of self in love.
To participate in the development of society, as outlined in task three, is to contribute to its own existence, for the family is the first and vital cell of society.
The family can do this by “reaffirming the dignity of each and every human being … extending hospitality to all other human beings … engag[ing] in political activity in order that the government would support and defend family life.”
A list of responsibilities the family should work for can be found in the form of the Charter of Family Rights, which includes the right to found a family and support it as well as the right to practice its accountability to the transmission of life.
The fourth and final task of the family to become a community of life and love is fulfilled by sharing in the life and mission of the Church. One main ministry of the Christian family is evangelization, as described in another apostolic exhortation this time by Pope Paul VI: “In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part.”
Part Four gives instruction for the pastoral care of the family that is to be carried out by the family herself and ecclesial figures. With these guidelines, the aide of the clergy and religious, as well as the intercession of the Holy Family, John Paul II hopes that “faithfulness to the values of the Gospel and of the human person … can favor a more rapid and integral advancement of the family.”
Part II: Reception of the Document in the Life of the Church
Four years after Familiaris Consortio was released, a commentary of the exhortation was published in Covenent of Love by Revs. Richard M. Hogan and John M. LeVoir. Hogan and LeVoir identify the “most brilliant and most concise summary of [Pope John Paul II’s] theology of the body and of the family” to be passage no. 11. The passage is noted to be a singular example of the subjectivity of John Paul II’s new synthesis, that while there is an emphasis on the individual, the reality of the order established by God is still maintained.
This ‘theology of the family’ is remarked to echo John Paul II’s ideology of the Church, that “[s]ince the family is a domestic church, a miniature mystical person of Christ, it should have the characteristics of the Church.”
Therefore, what the family is addressed to do in Familiaris Consortio, so should the Church do as the family of God in the world.
Expanding from Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio highlights natural family planning as “a tool for understanding and examining human fertility.”
Because the means of avoiding conception are purely natural, this method of ‘contraception’ is accepted by the Catholic Church and John Paul II asserted it to be essential to know in married life and even life before marriage. It is presented by Hogan and LeVoir that the tool must only be used to exercise responsible parenthood however, and must maintain an attitude of procreation. It is said that the reason for learning natural family planning is that “this method teaches … that the body, as God made it, is the expression of the person.”
When the natural cycle of fertility and infertility is accepted as a gift from God and is not subject to artificial manipulation, people can “experience themselves as spirits endowed with a body and they know that those who would divorce the body from the person misunderstood human beings.”
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church issued by John Paul II in 1992, the instructional text itself cites many passages of Familiaris Consortio in the article on the Sacrament of Marriage:
Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.
By placing excerpts of the apostolic exhortation into an official text of the Church, the words of John Paul II not only become an address to the people of God at a certain
era, but also to the generations to come.
In 2007, Christopher West (whose commentary on Man and Women He Created Them, a compilation of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body lectures, was published that same year), wrote The Love that Satisfies, which reflects on Pope Benedict XIV’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est but also incorporates works of John Paul II, including Love and Responsibility, Theology of the Body, and Familiaris Consortio. Passages from Deus Caritas Est, in particular no. 5, are connected with no. 11 of Familiaris Consortio:
It is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love – eros – able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur.
As an incarnate spirit, that is, a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit, man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love.
Christopher West explains that through the integration of body and soul, the human being longs for an “incarnate love: a divine fire in-spiring the body and ex-pressed [sic] through it. This is why the Church joyously and boldly proclaims to the world that Christ – divine love-fire incarnated – is the answer to the human question … and that the only way to find that love that satisfies is to “catch” this fire and allow it to burn away our impurities and to spread from us to others. In this way we learn to love as Christ loves.”
By loving as Christ loves, there is fulfillment in the purpose for which God created humans and humans are living out their humanity in fullness.
A prestigious theologian even before becoming the sovereign pontiff, Benedict XVI’s encyclical on love, finding the unification in eros and agape (“passionate” and “unconditional love” respectively) to be total, is continuous with John Paul II’s ideology of self-giving:
Fundamentally, ‘love’ is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly. Yet when the two dimensions [eros and agape] are totally cut off from one another, the result is a caricature or at least an impoverished form of love.
The only “place” in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God Himself which only in this light manifests its true meaning.
Both popes appear to agree that the act of love-making, without the actual giving of true love which is the offering of one’s self within the sanctity of marriage, is corruption of the very love-making itself. To love, make love, and produce fruit from that love is the celebration of the gift that God bestowed upon humanity.
That is not to say that the select few who do not choose marriage do not participate fully in the celebration of God’s love, however; “Christ calls a small minority of men and women to “skip” the sacrament in order to devote all of their hungers and yearnings for love to the marriage that alone can satisfy: the “marriage” of Christ and the Church. When this marriage is loved in the spirit Christ intended, these men and women become a living sign that heaven is real.”
This sentiment is also reflected in Familiaris Consortio in passages nos. 11 and 16.
Familiaris Consortio not only calls families, but also individuals to the action of self-giving love that is infused into their bodies through creation. Perhaps not because of its direct commission from the exhortation but nonetheless subconsciously following it, laity have been locally, nationally, and internationally teaching natural family planning and the theology of the body for a better understanding of human sexuality. Even without a background in theology, natural family planning is sometimes used as a “study of God by studying a human person as imaging God in the body.”
For those who are not active in the Church nor knowledgeable of her teachings, natural family planning can act as a bridge to a better understanding of the Church and inspire practice to those who are lukewarm. The program of natural family planning encourages interaction with one’s priests, doctors, and instructors, but also strengthens the relationship in the couple’s marriage.
If Familiaris Consortio is as influential as to be hoped, there will emerge a generation living out God’s will for their bodies, countering the sexual revolution from the midst which John Paul II wrote the exhortation.
Part III: Critique
“Familiaris Consortio has been described as the ‘Magna Carta’ for the pastoral care of marriage and family life by successive presidents of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It is the reference point par excellence for all those with a heart for families and a desire to serve them in the Church. It sets out the path by which families and the church can come to appreciate more fully “the heart of the deepest truth” about family.”
Other critiques however, incorrectly take a look at the exhortation as a document weighted in personal opinion rather than in sound Church teaching and do not see the impact it has made to better the Catholic Church as a spiritual, global family.
John Cornwell points out that although the encyclical was reportedly made up of fifteen percent of the views of bishops who attended the synod of the family and John Paul II had affirmed the document to be the consensus of the synod, it was a reflected consensus that “John Paul alone determined.”
Concerning taking the Virgin Mary as a model on how women should portray themselves, Cornwell over exaggerates John Paul II’s views to project that the pontiff believes women should be submissive and willing to suffer.
The divine aspect that escapes the attention of Cornwell is that John Paul II chose the Virgin Mary as the ideal woman for the same reason that, as the Catholic Church teaches
, God Himself chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God.
This same problem is found with Charles Curran in his observations of John Paul II’s moral theology on marriage, sexuality, gender, and family. Curran comments with emphasis on the usage of the term, “domestic church,” that even though the Second Vatican Council used this term,
the pontiff fails to notice that the hierarchical model the family is compared to excludes women.
By stating this, Curran also finds fault in the complementarianist position that the Catholic Church takes, as implied in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
He implicates degradation of the dignity of women through assuming this stance, however John Paul II repeatedly exults the dignity of women in addresses such as Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), Letter to Women (1995), and previously in his Theology of the Body talks. Complementarianism, the theological concept that men and women are equal in being and personhood but complement each other in their roles and duties,
raises the dignity of women rather than stifling it, describing the unique vocational roles women are called to by living out the fullness of their femininity.
Familiaris Consortio, like many Church documents, is not meant to be analyzed with a mechanical approach. Because of its theological advancement, dissection and hermeneutics may be needed for better comprehension for the layman, however its objective does not have to be questioned. Most documents are written with the intent to expose the deep truths of the faith so that they may be incarnated into the actions of daily life.
What is distinctive with Familiaris Consortio is that not only does it present those deep truths of Catholic faith so as to have it lived it out in the world, it also tells explicitly with direct instruction what the Christian family should be doing in the world to be a witness of the faith. In addition it reveals scripture, Church Fathers’ writings, and magisterial documents in new expressions that give better understanding of humanity and human sexuality. The exhortation is essentially pastoral, doctrinal, and expository all at once, which raises its indiscernible and inexhaustible value.
In a letter Fr. Wojtyla wrote to a student he was advising as a university chaplain:
Everyone…lives, above all, for love. The ability to love authentically, not great intellectual capacity, constitutes the deepest part of a personality. It is no accident that the greatest commandment is to love. Authentic love leads us outside ourselves to affirming others: devoting oneself to the cause of man, to people, and, above all, to God. Marriage makes sense…if it gives one the opportunity for such love, if it evokes the ability and necessity of such loving, if it draws one out of the shell of individualism (various kinds) and egocentrism. It is not enough simply to want to accept such love. One must know how to give it, and it’s often not ready to be received. Many times it’s necessary to help it to be formed…
In each personal letter or papal document, including Familiaris Consortio, that the personage of Karol Wojtyla has penned, one can see the formation of love that he has said to be necessary, as well as the delivery of love addressed to the reader. One can also say that as Pope John Paul II, he has chosen love to be the foundation from which all his writings sprang forth: for if not for love, there would be no marriage and if there was no marriage, there would be no family, and if there was no family, there would be no purpose for Familiaris Consortio to be written. Other documents, for example on account of ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue, and even apologies for previous grievances to external parties, were all written for the sake of love between the Catholic Church and the rest of the world. As it is the family that contains and involves the most love than all of the other issues mentioned, perhaps it is the reason that “Familiaris Consortio is one of John Paul’s personal favorites in a pontificate replete with teaching documents.”
It is said in a proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Like a father that would teach his child an occupation that would become the child’s livelihood, this Holy Father to the grand family of the Catholic Church not only gives love to his children, but also teaches his children how to love, so that the love of God and of each other may be sustaining. It is this type of legacy that is more precious and valuable than any costly inheritance – that is why Familiaris Consortio is one of the unsung heirlooms of John Paul II that needs to be displayed out in the open and lived, rather than kept in a private place and become forgotten.
A. The document is addressed to families.
1. Who know what marriage is.
2. Who are searching for the truth.
3. Who are not free to live as families.
B. The occasion for issuing this document is the 1980 synod of bishops, which considered the family.
C. The family exists to announce the Gospel.
D. The family also exists to discern vocations.
E. The Church has a profound interest in the family.
1. Proof of this interest is the 1980 synod of bishops.
2. The bishops, gathered in synod, made some propositions and asked the Pope “to be a spokesman before humanity” on the Church’s interest in family life.
F. The family was willed by God in His creative act.
G. But family life is interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ.
H. The family can realize itself only by accepting Christ.
I. Further, it is only in accepting Christ that the family can be restored to the full realization of God’s plan.
1. Men and women cannot live family life as God planned because of original sin.
2. Only the grace of Christ restores the family to what it should be.
Part I: Bright Spots and Shadows for the Family Today
A. This part defines the problems of the family in our age.
B. God’s plan for marriage and family life is not an abstract, theoretical concept, but applies to families in their concrete existence.
C. Some very appealing ideas are proposed in our age to questions about family life.
D. However, many of these are contrary to the Gospel.
E. The Church wishes to offer the entire truth about humanity and family life to the modern world.
1. The Church is not just the hierarchy, but includes all the baptized.
2. Christian couples have a very special obligation to proclaim the Gospel to other families.
F. There are certain modern negative phenomena which threaten the family.
4. A contraceptive mentality.
G. At the root of these phenomena is a false idea of freedom based on selfishness.
1. There is a conflict between two loves: love of self and the love of God.
2. The Church proclaims the freedom and love of the Gospel, which are not in conflict because both find their source in God.
H. The faithful are not immune to these false ideas.
I. A new culture is emerging which is characterized by advanced technology.
1. These developments are good.
2. But we must recover an awareness of moral values.
J. Everyone needs a permanent conversion to Christ.
Part II: The Plan of God for Marriage and the Family
A. This section teaches the world what the family is, i.e., its identity.
B. The first article of Part II summarizes the Theology of the Body series.
1. The human person, as an image of God, is made to love.
2. This love is expressed in and through the human body.
3. Human love must reflect the total self-donation of God in the creation and the redemption.
4. The gift of a married couple to one another must include the possibility of children. Couples should exercise “responsible fertility.”
5. Sexuality and procreation are not something merely biological.
6. If a man and a woman love one another and wish to express their love through their sexual powers, this must occur in marriage.
7. Virginity and celibacy also represent a gift of love in and through the body.
C. Marriage is a sign of God’s love for His people.
D. Christ restores family life and makes it possible even after sin.
1. Christian married couples are a sign of Christ’s love.
2. They are called to love as Christ loved us on the cross.
E. Children are a precious gift of marriage: the fruit of the mutual gift of the spouses to one another.
F. The family is a communion of persons which builds up society and the Church.
G. The family also is the means by which the child enters society and is introduced into the life of the Church.
H. Conversely, the Church finds a way to the hearts of all people, especially children, through the family.
I. Virginity and celibacy are embraced as another way of expressing love.
1. Virgins and celibates testify to the goodness of marriage and family life.
2. Further, it is only when family life is held in high esteem that virginity and celibacy make any sense.
Part III: The Role of the Christian Family
A. This third part discusses the mission of the family.
1. As a miniature mystical person of Christ, the family must realize itself and know itself in and through its proper acts. It must become what it is, a domestic church, through its proper acts.
2. The acts of the family, i.e., the mission of the family, correspond to the mission of the Church.
B. The first division considers the building of the communion of persons in the family.
1. The familial communion of persons is based on love, the mutual self-donation of all the family members to one another.
2. Grace, especially that given through the sacrament of Matrimony, makes this self-donation possible.
3. A marital union must be exclusive. Thus, polygamy contradicts the familial communion of persons.
4. The marital union is total and therefore indissoluble.
5. All members of the family are called to live in love with the other family members.
a. The Pope discusses the role of women in the family.
b. He also discusses men.
c. He treats the children.
d. He concludes with some remarks on the elderly.
C. The second division of Part III discusses the family’s obligation to serve life.
1. The Pope divides this topic into two areas.
a. The first is the transmission of life.
b. The second is the education of the children.
2. The power of transmitting life is an extraordinary gift. Men and women are called to share in the divine love, which is always fruitful.
a. The Church teaches that the love of spouses must always be open to the transmission of life.
b. The Church stands for life and supports life against all those who would attack it.
c. The magisterium asks theologians to explain the teachings of the Church regarding life.
d. Contraception is accepted because sexuality is separated from the person.
e. The Second Vatican Council affirmed the teaching of the Church against contraception as did Pope Paul VI.
f. Contraception is a manipulation and degradation of human sexuality. The couples who practice it are living a lie.
g. There is no contradiction between love and morality.
h. Fertility awareness is unequivocally recommended and encouraged.
i. All people must always strive to live according to the moral norms. They will grow in holiness and as they grow in holiness, they will find it easier to follow the moral precepts.
j. All those who investigate the fertility cycle are commended, thanked, and urged to continue.
3. The spouses have a grave obligation to educate their children.
a. Parents should teach by word, but even more importantly, by example.
b. They should prepare the children for love, not neglecting education in sexuality, i.e., in discipline and self-control according to Christian values.
c. Parents teach by virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony.
d. Parents have a grave obligation to ensure the Christian formation of their children. They should teach the children prayer, assist them to grow in holiness, and enable them to receive the sacraments at the proper times. They should teach the Christian truths by example and help their children exercise the Christian virtues.
e. Church, state, and other Christian families should assist the family in its role of education.
f. Those families which do not have children witness to their fruitful love by reaching out to others.
D. The third division of Part III considers the role of the family in participating in society.
1. The family serves society by giving society new members.
2. The family also serves society by reaffirming the dignity of each and every human being.
a. The family does this within itself when all members give themselves in love to all the other members.
b. The family also does this by extending hospitality to all other human beings.
3. Families should engage in political activity in order that the government would support and defend family life.
4. The state has obligations to the family.
a. The government should not appropriate familial tasks to itself.
b. The state should assist families in shouldering their responsibilities.
5. Article forty-six has the charter of the rights of the family.
6. Christian families, in the exercise of Christ’s kingly office, have a very special obligation to participate in the development of society.
a. Christian families will offer a very special witness to human dignity by cultivating a preference for the poor, the hungry, and those without a family.
b. Some issues need to be solved on a worldwide basis. Christian families will unite with other Christian families around the globe in defense of human dignity.
c. Christian families will give witness to human dignity primarily through education.
E. The last section of Part III considers the family’s obligation to share in the life and mission of the Church.
1. The Christian family is a domestic church called to exercise the priestly, prophetic, and kingly offices of the Lord.
2. The Christian married couple exercises the prophetic office by receiving the teaching of the Church with faith.
a. The couple exercises Christ’s prophetic office through the celebration of the sacrament of Matrimony.
b. The ritual of the marriage rite should be a “moment of faith.”
c. The couple should exercise Christ’s prophetic office throughout the marriage as they give living witness to the Christian truths.
3. The couple also exercises Christ’s prophetic office by teaching the faith, especially to their children.
a. This task of evangelization often causes suffering if the children reject the faith.
b. At such times, parents should keep in mind the suffering of the Apostles when they proclaimed the faith.
4. Spouses also exercise Christ’s priestly office.
a. The priestly office is activated through the sacrament of Matrimony.
b. However, it also requires refreshment through the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance.
5. Once activated through the sacraments, the priestly office of the spouses is exercised in prayer and through teaching the children to pray.
a. The prayer of the family should include liturgical prayer.
b. Family private prayer should include the usual prayers of the Church, and especially the Rosary.
6. The parents also exercise their priestly office by presenting the children for reception of the sacraments at the appropriate times.
7. The family also exercises Christ’s kingly office.
a. Spouses must govern themselves (integration) and this occurs through the exercise of the kingship of Christ.
b. Such self-rule is necessary for true love.
c. Spouses must also strive to uphold human dignity and this is an exercise of Christ’s kingship in its second aspect: the restoration of the created order as God intended “from the beginning.”
Part IV: Pastoral Care of the Family: Stages, Structures, Agents, and Situations
A. This part of the exhortation is very practical and applies the principles learned previously to concrete situations.
B. It is in four divisions: stages, structures, agents, and situations.
C. The stages of pastoral care of the family are threefold: preparation, celebration of the rite, and the married life.
1. Preparation is divided into three areas: remote, proximate, and immediate.
a. Remote preparation occurs in the family when the child is young and learns about love from his/her parents.
b. Proximate preparation occurs during the adolescent years and should include fertility awareness and other practical areas necessary to married life.
c. Immediate preparation includes the canonical inquiry and a preparation for the actual rite. This should be a journey of faith.
d. Even though such preparation is the norm, those who refuse to engage in such preparation should not, for that reason alone, be refused marriage.
2. The actual celebration of the rite is also a stage of pastoral care.
a. The ritual should be sanctifying. It must be fruitful, valid, and worthy.
b. Even couples without strong faith may be married in the Church because they are conforming themselves to the will of God as expressed in Genesis.
c. If a couple explicitly rejects what the Church intends by marriage, the marriage cannot take place. Otherwise, the priest should witness the marriage.
3. The last stage of pastoral care follows the marriage.
a. The Church should support the newly married.
b. Older families should help the younger ones.
c. There should be Christian associations of families.
D. The second division of Part IV considers the structures of the pastoral care of the family.
1. The most important structure is the diocese.
2. However, for most people, the contact with the Church is through the parish.
3. The family, itself, as a miniature church, is an agent of pastoral care.
4. Finally, there are associations of families, which should act as agents of pastoral care.
E. The third division of Part IV considers the agents of pastoral care.
1. The family is an agent of pastoral care.
2. However, in a diocese, the bishop is the primary agent for the pastoral care of the family. The bishop should take a personal interest in the support of families.
3. Priests assist the bishop and they should receive training for the family apostolate before accepting parish assignments.
4. Theologians should assist the Church and families by explaining the teachings of the Church.
5. Religious institutes should try to devote some personnel and resources to the family apostolate.
6. Lay experts of every type and description extend the Church’s pastoral care.
7. Finally, those in the media should be mindful of their influence on families. Not only should they discourage programming harmful to families, but they should strive to incorporate family values in the development of new shows.
a. Families should encourage such programming.
b. The Church supports those Catholics who undertake such arduous work.
F. The final division of Part IV treats difficult cases.
1. The Pope first considers families with special needs.
a. He mentions many such cases, but discusses the families of migrant workers, interfaith families, and families in special situations, e.g., birth, death, and marriage. The Pope also includes elderly families among those with special needs.
b. The Church wishes to offer such families a special solicitude.
2. The Pope also discusses the special care which both the couple and the Church must take when there is a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian, or a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Christian.
3. The Pope also considers irregular situations.
a. Trial marriages violate the dignity of both the man and the woman.
b. Free unions also violate the dignity of the man and the woman.
c. Sometimes young people enter these for lack of money and other necessities. Civil authorities should do what is possible to make true marriage a viable option in all societies.
d. Civil marriages of Catholics are forbidden. Catholics in civil marriages cannot receive the sacraments until the marriage is validated.
e. Divorced or separated spouses should receive the Church’s constant support. They are to be encouraged to forgive their spouses.
f. When the divorced and separated live without entering a new union, they give a powerful witness to the whole Church.
g. Finally, the Pope discusses the divorced and remarried.
h. These men and women have chosen a way of life contrary to the Gospel. The Church offers prayers on their behalf.
i. There are differences among this group. Those who were abandoned by their spouses or those who remarried for the sake of children are in a different category from those who left their spouses and remarried.
j. The divorced and remarried cannot be admitted to the sacraments, but if they persevere in prayer, God will grant them the grace of repentance.
4. The Pope extends the hospitality of the Church to all those without a family.
A. “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.”
B. The Pope expects a special care for families on the part of the baptized because they know the full revelation of God concerning family life.
C. The Pope invokes the protection of the Holy Family on all families.
D. He ends this long document with a prayer to Joseph, Mary, and Christ.
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