(Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World)
INTRODUCTION The Church at the service of the family
1. The family in the modern world, as much as and per
haps more than any other institution, has been beset by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture. Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family. Others have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family life. Finally, there are others who are hindered by various situations of injustice in the realization of their fundamental rights.
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. Supporting the first, illuminating the second and assisting the others, the Church offers her services to every person who wonders about the dpstiny of marriage and the family.'
In a particular way the Church addresses the young, who are beginning their journey towards marriage and family
life, for the pui-pose of presenting them with new hori
zons, helping them to discover the beauty and grandeur of the vocation to love and the service of life.
The Synod of 1980 in continuity with preceding Synods 2. A sign of this profound interest of the Church in the family was the last Synod of Bishops, held in Rome from 215
1 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the t'huich in the Modern World Giwdhn,. <t Spes. 52.
294 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS September to 25 October 1980. This was a natural continua
tion of the two preceding Synods:- the Christian family, in fact, is the first community called to announce the Gospel to the human person during growth and to bring him or her, through a progressive education and catechesis, to full human and Chris
Furthermore, the recent Synod is logically connected in some way as well with that on the ministerial priesthood and on justice in the modern world. In fact, as an educating com
munity, the family must help man to discern his own vocation and to accept responsibility in the search for greater justice, educating him from the beginning in interpersonal relation
ships, rich in justice and love.
At the close of their assembly, the Synod Fathers pre
sented me with a long list of proposals in which they had gathered the fruits of their reflections, which had matured over intense days of work, and they asked me unanimously to be a spokesman before humanity of the Church’s lively care for the family .and to give suitable indications for renewed pastoral effort in this fundamental sector of the life of man and of the Church.
As I fulfil that mission with this Exhortation, thus actua
ting in a particular matter the apostolic ministry with which I am entrusted, I wish to thank all the members of the Synod for the very valuable contribution of teaching and experience that they made, especially through the Propositiones, the text of which I am entrusting to the Pontifical Council for the Family with instructions to study it so as to bring out every aspect of its rich content.
The precious value of marriage and of the family
3. Illuminated by the faith that gives her an understand
ing of all the truth concerning the great value of marriage and the family and their deepest meaning, the Church once again feels the pressing need to proclaim the Gospel, that is the “good news”, to all people without exception, in particular to all those who are called to marriage and are preparing for it, to all married couples and parents in the world.
- Cf. John Paul II, Homilv for the Opening of the Sixth Synod of Bishops (26 September 1980), 2: .4.4S 72 (1980. 1008.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 295 The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.
Willed by God in the very act of creation,3 marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfilment in Christ4 and have need of his graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin5 * and restored to their “beginning”,that is, to full un
derstanding and the full realization of God’s plan.
5 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution 01.
the Church in the Modern World Gaadiam et Spr/t, 47; Pope John Paul II, Letter Appiopinquat lam (15 August, 1980), 1: .4AS 72 (1980), 791.
<>Cf. Mt. 19:4.
1 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution < :i the Church in the Modern World Gaadiitm rt SpeK, 47.
■s Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops (23 February, 1980) ; Iiiseg'ianunti di Giova.ivi Paolo II, III, 1 (1980), 472-476.
At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family,7 the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for mar
riage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the People of God.
Part One BRIGHT SPOTS AND SHADOWS
FOR THE FAMILY TODAY The need to understand the situation
4. Since God’s plan for marriage and the family touches men and women in the concreteness of their daily existence in specific social and cultural situations, the Church ought to apply herself to understanding the situations within which mar
riage and the famity are lived today, in order to fulfil her task of serving.3
298 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS The situation of the family in the world today
6. The situation in which the family finds itself presents positive and negative aspects: the first are a sign of the salva
tion of Christ operating in the world; the second, a sign of the refusal that man gives to the love of God.
On the one hand, in fact, there is a more lively awareness of personal freedom and greater attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships in marriage, to promoting the dignity of women, to responsible procreation, to the education of children. There is also an awareness of the need for the deve
lopment of interfamily relationships, for reciprocal spiritual and material assistance, the rediscovery of the ecclesial mission proper to the family and its responsibility for the building of a more just society. On the other hand, however, signs are not lacking of a disturbing degradation of some fundamental values:
a mistaken theoretical and practical concept of the independence of the spouses in relation to each other; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship of authority between parents and children; the concrete difficulties that the family itself expe
riences in the transmission of values; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the ever more frequent recourse to sterilization; the appearance of a truly contraceptive mentality.
At the root of these negative phenomena there frequently lies a corruption of the idea and the experience of freedom, conceived not as a capacity for realizing the truth of God’s plan for marriage and the family, but as an autonomous power of self-affirmation, often against others, for one’s own selfish well
Worthy of our attention also is the fact that, in the coun
tries of the so-called Third World, families often lack both the means necessary for survival, such as food, work, housing and medicine, and the most elementary freedoms. In the richer countries, on the contrary, excessive prosperity and the con
sumer mentality, paradoxically joined to a certain anguish and uncertainty about the future, deprive married couples of the generosity and courage needed for raising up new human life:
thus life is often perceived not as a blessing, but as a danger from which to defend oneself.
The historical situation in which the family lives therefore appears as an interplay of light and darkness.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 299 This shows that history is not simply a fixed progression towards what is better, but rather an event of freedom, and even a struggle between freedoms that are in mutual conflict, that is, according to the well-known expression of Saint Augus
tine, a conflict between two loves: the love of God to the point of disregarding self, and the love of self to the point of dis
■'■Cf. Saint Augustine, De Cieitxte Dei, XIV, 28 (SEI. 10, II, 5G-57.
It follows that only an education for love rooted in faith can lead to the capacity of interpreting “the signs of the times”, which are the historical expression of this twofold love.
The influence of circumstances on the consciences of the faithful
7. Living in such a world, under the pressures coming above all from the mass media, the faithful do not always remain immune from the obscuring of certain fundamental values, nor set themselves up as the critical conscience of family culture and as active agents in the building of an authentic family humanism.
Among the more troubling signs of this phenomenon, the Synod Fathers stressed the following, in particular: the spread of divorce and of recourse to a .new union, even on the part of the faithful; the acceptance of purely civil marriage in contra
diction to the vocation of the baptized to “be married in the Lord”; the celebration of the marriage sacrament without living faith, but for other motives; the rejection of the moral norms that guide and promote the human and Christian exercise of sexuality in marriage.
Our age needs wisdom
8. The whole Church is obliged to a deep reflection and commitment, so that the new culture now emerging may b<>
evangelized in depth, true values acknowledged, the rights of men and women defended, and justice promoted in the very structures of society. In this way the “new humanism” will not distract people from their relationship with God, but will lead them to it more fully. *
300 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS Science and its technical applications offer new and immense possibilities in the construction of such a humanism.
Still, as a consequence of political choices that decide the direc
tion. of research and its applications, science is often used against its original purpose, which is the advancement of the human person.
It becomes necessary, therefore, on the part of all, to recover an awareness of the primacy of moral values, which are the values of the human person as such. The great task that has to be faced today for the renewal of society is that of recaptur
ing the ultimate meaning of life and its fundamental values.
Only an awareness of the primacy of these values enables man to use the immense possibilities given him by science in such a way as to bring about the true advancement of the human person in his or her whole truth, in his or her freedom and dignity. Science is called to ally itself with wisdom.
The following words of the Second Vatican Council can therefore be applied to the problems of the family: “Our era needs such wisdom more than bygone ages if the discoveries made by man are to be further humanized. For the future of the world stands in peril unless wiser people are forthcoming”.”
The education of the moral conscience, which makes every human being capable of judging and of discerning the proper ways to achieve self-realization according to his or her original truth, thus becomes a pressing requirement that cannot be renounced.
Modern culture must be led to a more profoundly restored covenant with divine Wisdom. Every man is given a share of such Wisdom through the creating action of God. And it is only in faithfulness to this covenant that the families of today will be in a position to influence positively the building of a more just and fraternal world.
Gradualness and conversion
9. To the injustice originating from sin — which has pro
foundly penetrated the structures of today’s world — and often hindering the family’s full realization of itself and of its funda
mental rights, we must all set ourselves in opposition through a conversion of mind and heart, following Christ Crucified by
17 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium ft Spcs, 15.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 301 denying our own selfishness: such a conversion cannot fail t<»
have a beneficial and renewing influence even on the structures of society.
What is needed is a continuous, permanent conversion which, while requiring a.n interior detachment from every evil and an adherence to good in its fullness, is brought about con
cretely in steps which lead us ever forward. Thus a dynamic process develops, one which advances gradually with the pro
gressive integration of the gifts of God and the demands of his definitive and absolute love in the entire personal and social life of man. Therefore an educational growth process is necessary, in order that individual believers, families aud peoples, even civilization itself, by beginning from what they have already- received of the mystery of Christ, may patiently be led forward, arriving at a richer understanding and a fuller integration of this mystery in their lives.
10. In conformity with her constant tradition, the Church receives from the various cultures everything that is able to express better the unsearchable riches of Christ.1*1 Only with the help of all the cultures will it be possible for these riches to be manifested ever more clearly, and for the Church to pro
gress towards a daily more complete and profound awareness of the truth, which has already been given to her in its entirety bv the Lord.
Holding fast to the two principles of the compatibility with the Gospel of the various culture.1? to be taken up and of com
munion with the universal Church, there must be further study, particularly by the Episcopal Conferences and the appropriate departments of the Roman Curia, and greater pastoral diligence’
so that this “inculturation” of the Christian faith may conn about ever more extensively, in the context of marriage and the family as well as in other fields.
It is by means of “inculturation” that one proceeds towards the full restoration of the covenant with the Wisdom of God.
which is Christ himself. The whole Church will be enriched also by the cultures which, though lacking technology, abound in human wisdom and are enlivened by profound moral values.
” Cf. Kplt. 3:8; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Gomlimn < t X/,'-:.
•1-1; Decree on tile Church’s Missionary Activity .Id G'/elrx, 15. 22.
302 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS So that the goal of this journey might be clear and conse
quently the way plainly indicated, the Synod was right to begin by considering in depth the original design of God for marriage and the family: it "went back to the beginning", in deference to the teaching of Christ.’0
Part Two THE PLAN OF GOD FOR MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY Man, the image of the God who is love
11. God created man in his own image and likeness:'-’0 call
ing him to existence throu</h love, he called him at the same time for love.
God is love* 2021 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 capa
city and responsibility, of love and communion.22 Love is there
fore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.
»>Cf. Mt. 19:4-6.
20 Cf. Gen. 1:26-27.
■21 1 Jn. 4:8.
22 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 12.
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.
Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of rea
lizing the vocation of the human person, in its entirety, to love:
marriage and virginity or celibacy. Either one is, in its own propel’ form, an actuation of the most profound truth of man, of his being "created in the image of God”.
Consequently, sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is by no means something
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 303 purely biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death. The total physical self-giving would be a lie if it were not the sign and fruit of a total personal self-giving, in which the whole person, including the temporal dimension, is present: if the person were to withhold something or reserve the possibility of deciding otherwise in the future, by this very fact he or she would not be giving totally.
This totality which is required by conjugal love also cor
responds to the demands of responsible fertility. Tliis fertility is directed to the generation of a human being, and so by its nature it surpasses the purely biological order and involves a whole series of personal values. For the harmonious growth of these values a persevering and unified contribution by both parents is necessary.
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 him
self,-3 which only in this light manifests its true meaning. The institution of marriage is not an undue interference by society or authority, nor the extrinsic imposition of a form. Rather
itis an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the Creator. A person’s freedom, far from being restricted by this fidelity, is secured against every form of subjectivism or relativism and
is made a sharer in creative Wisdom.
Marriage and communion between God and people
12. The communion of love between God and people, a fundamental part of the Revelation and faith experience of Israel, finds a meaningful expression in the marriage covenant which is established between a man and a woman.
For this reason the central word of Revelation, “God loves his people”, islikewise proclaimed through the living and con
creteword whereby a man and a woman express their conjugal love. Their bond of love becomes the image and the symbol
304 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS of the covenant which unites God and his people.24 * * And the same sin which can harm the conjugal covenant becomes an image of the infidelity of the people to their God: idolatry is prostitution,2r’ infidelity is adultery, disobedience to the law is abandonment of the spousal love of the Lord. But the infidelity of Israel does not destroy the eternal fidelity of the Lord, and therefore the ever faithful love of God is put forward as the model of the relations of faithful love which should exist between spouses.2*
24 Cf. e.g. Hos. 2:21; Jo-. 3:6-13; Is. 51.
->r’Cf. Ezelc. 16:25.
Cf. Hos. 3.
-'■Cf. Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:5.
-'Cf. Eph. 5:32-33.
Jesus Christ, Bridegroom of the Church, and the sacrament of Matrimony
13. The communion between God and his people finds its definitive fulfilment in Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom who loves and gives himself as the Saviour of humanity, uniting it to him
self as his body.
He reveals the original truth of marriage, the truth of the
“beginning”,-7 and, freeing man from his hardness of heart, he makes man-capable of realizing this truth in its entirety.
This revelation reaches its definitive fullness in the gift of love which the Word of God makes to humanity in assuming a human nature, and in the sacrifice which Jesus Christ makes of himself on the Cross for his bride, the Church. In this sacri
fice there is entirely revealed that plan which God has imprinted on the humanity of man and woman since their creation;28 the marriage of baptized persons thus becomes a real symbol of that new and eternal covenant sanctioned in the blood of Christ.
The Spirit which the Lord pours forth gives a new heart, and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. 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.
In a deservedly famous page, Tertullian has well expressed the greatness of this conjugal life i,n Christ and its beauty: “How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 305 together by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father?...
How wonderful the bond between two believers, with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single sendee! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separa
tion between them in spirit or flesh; i.n fact they are truly two in one flesh, and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit’’.21'
Tertullian, Ad Uxorcm, II, VIII, 6-8: CCL, I, 393.
110 Cf. Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXIV, canon 1: I.D.
Mansi, Sacronon Concilioriim Nova ct Amplissima Collcctio, 33, 149-150.
31 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium ct Spes, 48.
32 John Paul II, Address to the Delegates of the Centre de Liaison des Equipes de Recherche (3 November 1979), 3: Inscgnamcnti di Giovanni Paolo ll, II, 2 (1979), 1038.
Receiving and meditating faithfully on the word of God, the Church has solemnly taught and continues to teach that the marriage of the baptized is one of the seven sacraments of the New Covenant.’*"
Indeed, by means of baptism, man and woman are definitely placed within the .new and eternal covenant, in the spousal cove
nant of Christ with the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of con
jugal life and love, founded by the Creator," is elevated and assumed into the spousal charity of Christ, sustained and enriched by his redeeming power.
By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other is the real representa
tion, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the Church.
Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers. Of this salvation event mar
riage, like every sacrament, is a memorial, actuation and pro
phecy. “As a memorial, the sacrament gives them the grace and duty of commemorating the great works of God and of bearing witness to them before their children. As actuation, it gives them the grace and duty of putting into practice in the present, towards each other and their children, the demands of a love which forgives and redeems. As prophecy, it gives them the grace and duty of living and bearing witness to the hope of the future encounter with Christ”.1*2 * * * 31 32
306 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS Like each of the seven sacraments, so also marriage is a real symbol of the event of salvation, but in its own way. "The spouses participate in it as spouses, together, as a couple, so that the first and immediate effect of marriage (res et sacra- mc-ntum) is not supernatural grace itself, but the Christian conjugal bond, a typically Christian communion of two persons because it represents the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and the mystery of his covenant. The content of participation in Christ’s life is also specific: 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 cf the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the 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 (cf. Humanae Vitae, 9). In a word it is a question of the normal character
istics 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”.* 33
S3 Ibid., 4: loc. cit., 1032.
34 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 50.
33 Cf. Gen. 2:24.
Children, the precious gift of marriage
14. According to the plan of God, marriage is the founda
tion of the wider community of the family, since the very institu
tion of marriage and conjugal love are ordained to the procrea
tion and education of children, in whom they find their crown
In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal “know
ledge” which makes them "one flesh”,35 does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. 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 inse
parable synthesis of their being a father and a mother.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 307 When they become parents, spouses receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God.
“from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named”.:i,i It must not be forgotten however that, even when procrea
tion is not possible, conjugal life does not for this reason lose its value. Physical sterility in fact can be for spouses the occasion for other important services to the life of the human person, for example, adoption, various form of educational work, and assistance to other families and to poor or handicapped children.
The family, a communion of persons
15. In matrimony and in the family a complex of inter
personal relationships is set up — married life, fatherhood and motherhood, filiation and fraternity — through which each human person is introduced into the “human family” and into the “family of God", which is the Church.
Christian marriage and the Christian family build up the Church : for in the family the human person is not only brought into being and progressively introduced by means of education into the human community, but by means of the rebirth of baptism and education in the faith the child is also introduced into God’s family, which is the Church.
The human family, disunited by sin, is reconstituted in its unity by the redemptive power of the death and Resurrection of Christ.” Christian marriage, by participating in the salvi- fic efficacy of this event, constitutes the natural setting in which the human person it introduced into the great family of the Church.
The commandment to grow and multiply, given to man and woman in the beginning, in this way reaches its whole truth and full realization.
The Church thus finds in the family, born from the sacra
ment, the cradle and the setting in which she can enter the human generations, and where these in their turn can enter the Church.
311 Eph. 3:15.
37 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 78.
308 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS Marriage and virginity or celibacy
16. Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes it and confirms it. Marriage and virginity or celi
bacy are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the covenant of God with his people. When marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist;
when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven loses its meaning.
Rightly indeed does Saint John Chrysostom say: “Whoevei denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Who
ever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent.
What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be particularly good. It is something better than what is admitted to be good that is the most excellent good”.™
In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily waji, the eschatological marriage of Christ with the Church, giving himself or herself completely to the Church in the hope that Christ may give himself to the Church in the full truth of eternal life. The celibate person thus anticipates in his or her flesh the new world of the future resurrection.3839
38 Saint John Chrysostom Virginity, X: PG 48:540.
30 Cf. Mt. 22:30.
*>Cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-35.
‘*1 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on Renewal of Religious Life Perfectae Caritatis, 12.
Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Sacra Virginitas, II: A AS 46 (1954), 174 ff.
By virtue of this witness, virginity or celibacy keeps alive in the Church a consciousness of the mystery of marriage and defends it from any reduction and impoverishment.
Virginity or celibacy, by liberating the human heart in a unique way/0 "so as to make it burn with greater love for God and all humanity"." bears witness that the Kingdom of God and his justice is that pearl of great price which is preferred to every other value no matter how great, and hence must be sought as the only definitive value. It is for this reason that the Church, throughout her history, has always defended the superiority of this charism to that of marriage, by reason of the wholly singular link which it has with the Kingdom of God/-
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 309 In spite of having renounced physical fecundity, the celibate person becomes spiritually fruitful, the father and mother of many, cooperating in the realization of the family according to God’s plan.
Christian couples therefore have the right to expect from celibate persons a good example and a witness of fidelity to their vocation until death. Just as fidelity at times becomes difficult for married people and requires sacrifice, mortifica
tion and self-denial, the same can happen to celibate persons, and their fidelity, even in the trials that may occur, should strengthen the fidelity of married couples.1:1
These reflections on virginity or celibacy ca.n enlighten and help those who, for reasons independent of their own will, have been unable to marry and have then accepted their situation in a spirit of service.
THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY Family, become what you are
17. The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. The role that God calls the famliy to perform in history derives from what the family is; its role represents the dynamic and existential development of what it is. Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored, and that specifies both its dignity and its respon
sibility : family, become what you are.
Accordingly, the family must go back to the “beginning”
of God’s creative act, if it is to attain self-knowledge and self
realization in accordance with the inner truth not only of what it is but also of what it does in history. 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, 13 Cf. John Paul II, Letter Novo hicipicntc (8 April, 1979), 9: A4S 71 (1979,), 110-411.
•" Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium ct Spes, 48.
310 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS in an effort that will find fulfillment, as will everything created and redeemed, in the Kingdom of God. Looking at it in such a way as to reach its very roots, we must say that the essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love.
Hence the family has the mission to guard, reveal and commu
nicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church his bride.
Every particular task of the family is an expression and concrete actuation of that fundamental mission. We must therefore go deeper into the unique riches of the family's mis
sion and probe its contents, which are both manifold and unified.
Thus, with love as its point of departure and making constant reference to it, the recent Synod emphasized four general tasks for the family:
1) forming a community of persons;
2) serving life;
3) participating in the development of society;
4) sharing in the life and mission of the Church.
I — FORMING A COMMUNITY OF PERSONS Love as the principle and power of communion
18. The family, which is founded and given life by love, is a community of persons: of husband and wife, of parents and children, of relatives. Its first task is to live with fidelity the reality of communion in a constant effort to develop an authentic community of persons.
The inner principle of that task, its permanent power and its final goal is love: without love the family is not a com
munity of persons and, in the same way, without lave the family cannot live, grow amd perfect itself as a community of persons.
What I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptor Hominis applies primarily and especially within the family as such: “Man can
not live without love. He remains a being that is incompren- hensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it”.15
•i-' Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, 10: ,4AS 71 (1979), 271.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 311 The love between husband and wife and, in a derivator)- and broader way, the love between members of the same family — between parents and children, brothers and sisters and relatives and members of the household — is given life and sustenance by an unceasing inner dynamism leading the family to ever deeper and more intense communion, which is the founda
tion apd soul of the community of marriage and the family.
The indivisible unity of conjugal communion
19. The first communion is the one which is established and which develops between husband and wife: by virtue of the covenant of married life, the man and woman “are no longer two but one flesh”"* and they are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.
This conjugal communion sinks its roots in the natural com
plementarity that exists between man and woman, and is nur
tured through the personal willingness of the spouses to share their entire life-project, what they have and what they are: for this reason such communion is the fruit and the sign ol' a pro
foundly human need. But in the Lord Christ God takes up this human need, confirms it, purifies it and elevates it, leading it to perfection through the sacrament of Matrimony: the Holy Spirit who is poured out in the sacramental celebration offers Christian couples the gift of a new communion of love that is the living and real image of that unique unity which makes of the Church the indivisible Mystical Body of the Lord Jesus.
The gift of the Spirit is a commandment of life for Chris
tian spouses and at the same time a stimulating impulse so that every day they may progress towards an ever richer union with each other on all levels — of the body, of the character, of the heart, of the intelligence and will, of the soul17 — revealing in this way to the Church and to the world the new communion of love, given by the grace of Christ.
Such a communion is radically contradicted by polygamy:
this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal
Mt. 19:6; cf. Gen. 2:24.
■o Cf. John Paul II, Address to Married People at Kinshasa (3 Mar.
1980), 1: .IAS 72 (1980), 426-427.
312 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive. As the Second Vatican Council writes: “Firmly established by the Ix>rd, the unity of marriage will radiate from the equal per
sonal dignity of husband and wife, a dignity acknowledged by mutual and total love”?8
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium cf Spes, 49; cf. John Paul II, Address to Married People at Kinshasa (3 May 1980), 4: loe. cit.
™ Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 48.
•"Cf. Eph. 5:25.
An indissoluble communion
20. Conjugal communion is characterized not only by its unity but also by its indissolubility: “As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union, as well as the good of children, imposes total fidelity on the spouses and argues for an unbreak
able oneness between them”/"
It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly, as the Synod Fathers did, the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. To all those who, in our times, consider it too dif
ficult, or indeed impossible, to be bound to one person for the whole of life, and to those caught up in a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commit
ment of spouses to fidelity, it is necessary to reconfirm the good news of the definitive nature of that conjugal love that has in Christ its foundation and strength.'"
Being rooted in the personal and total self-giving of the couple, and being required by the good of the children, the indis
solubility of marriage finds its ultimate truth in the plan that God has manifested in his revelation: he wills and he communi
cates the indissolubility of marriage as a fruit, a sign and a requirement of the absolutely faithful love that God has for man and that the Lord Jesus has for the Church.
Christ renews the first plan that the Creator inscribed in the hearts of man and woman, and in the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony offers “a new heart”: thus the couples are not only able to overcome “hardness of heart”,51 but also and above all they are able to share the full and definitive love
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 313 of Christ, the new and eternal Covenant made flesh. Just as the Lord Jesus is the “faithful witness”,52 the “yes” of the promises of God63 and thus the supreme realization of the uncon
ditional faithfulness with which God loves his people, so Chris
tian couples are called to participate truly in the irrevocable indissolubility that binds Christ to the Church his bride, loved by him to the end.54
■•■i Cf. Cor. 1:20.
•« Cf. J». 13:1.
The gift of the sacrament is at the same time a vocation and commandment for the Christian spouses, that they may remain faithful to each other forever, beyond every trial and difficulty, in generous obedience to the holy will of the Lord:
‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”.5'’
To bear witness to the inestimable value of the indissolu
bility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time. So, with all my Brothers who participated in the Synod of Bishops, I praise and encourage those numerous couples who, though encountering no small difficulty, preserve and develop the value of indissolubility: thus, in a humble and courageous manner, they perform the role committed to them of being in the world a “sign” — a small and precious sign, sometimes also subjected to temptation, but always renewed — of the unfailing fidelity with which God and Jesus Christ love each and every human being. But it is also proper to recognize the value of the wit
ness of those spouses who, even when abandoned by their part
ner, with the strength of faith and of Christian hope have not entered a new union: these spouses too give an authentic wit
ness to fidelity, of which the world today has a great need.
For this reason they must be encouraged and helped by the pastors and the faithful of the Church.
The broader communion of the family
21. Conjugal communion constitutes the foundation on which is built the broader communion of the family, of parents and children, of brothers and sisters with each other, of rela
tives and other members of the household.
314 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS This communion is rooted in the natural bonds of flesh and blood, and grows to its specifically human perfection with the establishment and maturing of the still deeper and richer bonds of the spirit: the love that animates the interpersonal relationships of the different members of the family constitutes the interior strength that shapes and animates the family com
munion and community.
The Christian family is also called to experience a new and original communion which confirms and perfects natural and human communion. In fact the grace of Jesus Christ, “the first
born among many brethren”,50 is by its nature and interioi dynamism “a grace of brotherhood”, as Saint Thomas Aquinas calls it.*57 The Holy Spirit, who is poured forth in the celebration cf the sacraments, is the living source and inexhaustible suste
nance of the supernatural communion that gathers believers and links them, with Christ and with each other in the unity of the Church of God. The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecqlesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called “the domestic Church”.5*'
50 Rom. 8:29.
57 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Thcologiae, II-II, q. 14, art. 2, ad 4.
60 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 11; cf. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11.
09 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Gaudium et Spes, 52.
®®Cf. Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21.
01 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 48.
All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building, day by day, the communion, of persons, making the family “a school of deeper humanity”:58 this happens where there is care and love for the little ones, the sick, the aged; where there is mutual service every day; when there is a sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows.
A fundamental opportunity for building such a communion is constituted by the educational exchange between parents and children,00 in which each gives and receives. By means of love, respect and obedience towards their parents, children offer then- specific and irreplaceable contribution to the construction of an authentically human and Christian family.01 They will be aided in this if parents exercise their unrenounceable authority as a
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 315 true and proper “ministry", that is, as a service to the human and Christian well-being of their children, and in particular as a service aimed at helping them acquire a truly responsible freedom, and if parents maintain a living awareness of the “gift”
they continually receive from their children.
Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to for
bearance, to pardon, to reconciliation. There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own commu
nion : hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life. But. at the same time, every family is called by the God of peace to have the joyous and renewing experience of “reconciliation”, that is, communion reestablished, unity restored. In particular, participation in the sacrament of Re
conciliation and in the banquet of the one Body of Christ offers to the Christian family the grace and the responsibility of over coming every division and of moving towards the fullness of communion willed by God, responding in this way to the ardent desire of the Lord: “that they may be one”.02
The rights and role of women
22. In that it is, and ought always to become, a communion and commmunity of persons, the family finds in love the source and the constant impetus for welcoming, respecting and pro
moting each one of its members in his or her lofty dignity as a person, that is, as a living image of. God. As the Synod Fathers rightly stated, the moral criterion for the authenticity of con
jugal and family relationships consists in fostering the dignity and vocation of the individual persons, who achieve their full
ness by sincere self-giving.03
In this perspective the Synod devoted special attention to women, to their rights and role within the family and society.
In the same perspective are also to be considered men as hus
bands and fathers, and likewise children and the elderly.
ALove all it is important to underline the equal dignity and responsibility of women with men. This equality is realized in
,l:lCf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium ct Spes, 24.
316 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS a unique manner in that reciprocal self-giving by each one to the other and by both to the children which is proper to mar
riage and the family. What human reason intuitively perceives and acknowledges is fully revealed by the word of God: the history of salvation, in fact, is a continuous and luminous testi
mony to the dignity of women.
In creating the human race “male and female”,'u God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person. God then manifests the dignity of women in the highest form possible, by assuming human flesh from the Virgin Mary, whom the Church honours as the Mother of God, calling her the new Eve and presenting her as the model of redeemed woman.
The sensitive respect of Jesus towards the women that he called to his following and his friendship, his appearing on Easter morning to a woman before the other disciples, the mission entrusted to women to carry the goods news of the Resurrection to the Apostles — these are all signs that confinn the special esteem of the Lord Jesus for women. The Apostle Paul will say: “In Christ "Jesus you are all children of God through Jaith. . . There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.”"
Women and society
23. Without intending to deal with all the various aspects of the vast and complex theme of the relationships between women and society, and limiting these remarks to a few essen
tial points, one cannot but observe that in the specific area of family life a widespread social and cultural tradition has consi
dered women’s role to be exclusively that of wife and mother, without adequate access to public functions, which have gene
rally been reserved for men.
There is no doubt that the equal dignity and responsibility of men and women fully justifies women’s access to public func
tions. On the other hand the true advancement of women requires that clear recognition be given to the value of their maternal and family role, by comparison with all other public
”■* Gen. 1:27.
••■'Gal. 3:26, 28.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 317 roles and all other professions. Furthermore, these roles and professions should be harmoniously combined, if we wish the evolution of society and culture to be truly and fully human.
This will come about more easily if, in accordance with the wishes expressed by the Synod, a renewed “theology of work”
can shed light upon and study in depth the meaning of work in the Christian life and determine the fundamental bond between work and the family and therefore the original and irreplaceable meaning of work in the home and in rearing children.,in Therefore the Church can and should help modern society by tirelessly insisting that the work of women in the home be recognized and respected by all in its irreplaceable value. This is of particular importance in education: for pos
sible discrimination between the different types of work and professions is eliminated at its very root once it is clear that all people, in every area, are working with equal rights and equal responsibilities. The image of God in man and in woman will thus be seen with added lustre.
While it must be recognized that women have the same right as men to perform various public functions, society must be structured in such a way that wives and mothers are not in practice compelled to work outside the home, and that their families can live and prosper in a dignified way even when they themselves devote their full time to their own family.
Furthermore, the mentality which honours women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favouring work in the home.
With due respect to the different vocations of men and women, the Church must in her own life promote as far as pos
sible their equality of rights and dignity: and this for the good of all, the family, the Church and society.
But clearly all of this does not mean for women a renun
ciation of their femininity or an imitation of the male role, but the fullness of true feminine humanity which should be expressed in their activity, whether in the family or outside of it, with
out disregarding the differences of customs and cultures in this sphere.
Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Laborcm Excrccns, 19: A4S 73 (1981), 625.
318 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS Offences against women’s dignity
24. Unfortunately the Christian message about the dignity of women is contradicted by that persistent mentality which considers the human being not as a person but as a thing, as as an object of trade, at the service of selfish interest and mere pleasure: the first victims of this mentality are women.
This mentality produces very bitter fruits, such as con
tempt for men and for women, slavery, oppression of the weak, pornography, prostitution — especially in an organized form — and all those various forms of discrimination that exist in the fields of education, employment, wages, etc.
Besides, many forms of degrading discrimination still persist today in a great part of our society that affect and seriously harm particular categories of women, as for example childless wives, widows, separated or divorced women, and unmarried mothers.
The Synod Fathers deplored these and other forms of dis
criminations as strongly as possible. I therefore ask that vigor
ous and incisive pastoral action be taken by all to overcome them definitively so that the image of God that shines in all human beings without exception may be fully respected.
Men and husbands and fathers
25. Within the conjugal and family communion-community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father.
In his wife he sees the fulfillment of God’s intention: “It is not good that the man should be alone; “I will make him a helper fit for him”,07 and he makes his own the cry of Adam, the first husband: “This at last is bone by my bones and flesh of my flesh”.0S
Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife:
“You are not her master”, writes Saint Ambrose, “but her hus
band; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife... Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful
117 G<n. 2:18.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 319 to her for her love”.09 With his wife a man should live “a very special form of personal friendship”.70 As for the Chris
tian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, mani
festing towards his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church.71
lin Saint Ambrose, Examcron, V, 7, 19: CSEL 32, I, 154.
■"Paul VI, Encyclical Hiuna.iac Vitae, 9: A.4S 60 (1968), 486.
■> Cf. Eph. 5:25.
•-Cf. John Paul 11, Homily to the faithful of Terni (19 March 1981), .4.18' 73 (19811, 268-271.
7:: Cf. Epli. 3:15.
71 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium ct Spes, 52.
Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood. Above all where social and cultural conditions so easily encourage a father to be less concerned with his family or at any rate less involved in the work of education, efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable im
portance.72 As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still pre
vails the phenomenon of “machismo”, or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships.
In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God,72 a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife7'1 by- work which is never a cause of division in the family but pro
motes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.
The rights of children
26. In the family, which is a community of persons, special attention must be devoted to the children, by developing a pro
found esteem for their personal dignity, and a great respect and
320 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS generous concern for their rights. This is true for every child, but it becomes all the more urgent the smaller the child is and the more it is in need of everything, when it is sick, suffering or handicapped.
By fostering and exercising a tender and strong concern for every child that comes into this world, the Church fulfills a fundamental mission: for she is called upon to reveal and put forward anew in history the example and the commandment of Christ the Lord, who placed the child at the heart of the King
dom of God: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”.75
™Lk. 18:16; cf. Mt. 19:14; Mk. 18:16.
70 John Paul II, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (2 October 1979), 21: AAS 71 (1979), 1159.
77 Lk. 2:52.
7M Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spea, 48.
1 repeat once again what 1 said to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 2 October 1979: “I wish to express the joy that we all find in children, the springtime of life, the anticipation of the future history of each of our present earthly homelands. No country on earth, no political system can think of its own future otherwise than through the image of these new generations that will receive from their parents the mani
fold heritage of values, duties and aspirations of the nation to which they belong and of the whole human family. Concern for the child, even before birth, from the first moment of con
ception and then throughout the years of infancy and youth, is the primary and fundamental test of the relationship of one human being to another. And so, what better wish can I express for every nation and for the whole of mankind, and for all the children of the world than a better future in which res
pect for human rights will become a complete reality through
out the third millennium, which is drawing near”.7'1 Acceptance, love, esteem, many sided and united materia), emotional, educational and spiritual concern for every child that comes into this world should always constitute a distinctive, essential characteristic of all Christians, in particular of the Christian family: thus children, while they are able to grow
“in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man”,77 offer their own precious contribution to building up the family community and even to the sanctification of their parents.76
FAMILIAR1S CONSORTIO 321 The elderly in the family
27. There are cultures which manifest a unique veneration and great love for the elderly: far from being outcasts from the family or merely tolerated as a useless burden, they continue to be present and to take an active and responsible part in family life, though having to respect the autonomy of the new family; above all they carry out the important mission of being a witness to the past and a source of wisdom for the young and for the future.
Other cultures, however, especially in the wake of disordered industrial and urban development, have both in the past and in the present set the elderly aside in unacceptable ways. This causes acute suffering to them and spiritually im
poverishes many families.
The pastoral activity of the Church must help everyone to discover and to make good use of the role of the elderly within the civil and ecclesial community, in particular within the family. In fact, “the life of the aging helps to clarify a scale of human values; it shows the continuity of generations and marvellously demonstrates the interdependence of God’s people.
The elderly often have the charism to bridge generation gaps before they are made: how many children have found under
standing and love in the eyes and words and caressesi of the aging! And how many old people have willingly subscribed to the inspired word that the ‘crown of the aged is their children s children’ (Prov. 17:6) !”79
John Paul II, Address to the participants in the International Forum on Active Aping (5 September 1980), 5; hwffnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 2 (1980), 539.
II — SERVING LIFE 1) The transmission of life
Cooperators in the love of God the Creator
28. With the creation of man and woman in his own image and likeness, God crowns and brings to perfection the work of his hands: he calls them to a special sharing in his love and in his power as Creator- and Father, through their free and res-
322 BOLETIN ECLESIASTICO DE FILIPINAS ponsible cooperation in transmitting the gift of human life:
“God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’ ”.s"
Thus the fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator — that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person.'”
Fecundity is the fruit and the sign of conjugal love, the living testimony of the full reciprocal self-giving of the spouses:
“While not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole mean
ing of the family life which results from it, have this aim:
that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Saviour, who through them will enlarge and enrich his own family day by day”.82
Cf. Gen. 5:1-3.
8- Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium ct Spes, 50.
However, the fruitfulness of conjugal love is .not restricted solely to the procreation of children, even understood in its specifically human dimension: it is enlarged and enriched by all those fruits of moral, spiritual and supernatural life which the father and* mother are called to hand on to their children, and through the children to the Church and to the world.
The Church’s teaching and norm, always old yet always new 29. Precisely because the love of husband and wife is a unique participation in the mystery of life and of the love of God himself, the Church knows that she has received the special mission of guarding and protecting the lofty dignity of mar
riage and the most serious responsibility of the transmission
of human life.
Thus, in continuity with the living tradition of the ecclesiai community throughout history, the recent Second Vatican Coun
cil and the magisterium of my predecessor Paul VI, expressed above all in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, have handed on to our times a truly prophetic proclamation, which reaffirms and reproposes with clarity the Church’s teaching and norm, always old yet always new, regarding marriage and regarding the trans
mission of human life.
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO 323 For this reason the Synod Fathers made the following declaration at their last assembly: “This Sacred Synod, gathered together with the Successor of Peter in the unity of faith, firmly holds what has been set forth in the Second Vatican Council (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 50) and afterwards in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, particularly that love between husband and wife must be fully human, exclusive and open to new life (Hu
manae Vitae, 11; cf. 9, 12) ”.83
s:l Propositio 21. Section 11 of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae ends with the statement: “The Church, calling people back to the observance
>f the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by her constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the trans
mission of life (nt quilibct matrimonii usus ad vitam humanam pro- creandam per se destinatus pcrmaneat)": AAS 60 (1968), 488.
The Church stands for life
30. The teaching of the Church in our day is placed in a social and cultural context which renders it more difficult to understand and yet more urgent and irreplaceable for promot
ing the true good of men and women.
Scientific and technical progress; which contemporary man is continually expanding in his dominion over nature, not only offers the hope of creating a new and better humanity, but also causes ever greater anxiety regarding the future. Some ask themselves if it is a good thing to be alive or if it would be better never to have been born; they doubt therefore if it is right to bring others into life when perhaps they will curse their existence in a cruel world with unforeseeable terrors. Others consider themselves to be the only ones for whom the advantages of technology' are intended and they exclude others by imposing on them contraceptives or even worse means. Still others, im
prisoned in a consumer mentality and whose sole concern is to bring about a continual growth of material goods, finish by ceasing to understand, and thus by' refusing, the spiritual riches of a new human life. The ultimate reason for these mentalities is the albsence in people’s hearts of God, whose love alone is stronger than all the world’s fears and can conquer them.
Thus an anti-life mentality is born, as can be seen in many current issues: one thinks, for example of a certain panic deriv
ing from the studies of ecologists and futurologists on popula
tion growth, which sometimes exaggerate the danger of demo
graphic increase to the quality of life.