selections from
(Nov. 22, 1981):
On The Role of The Christian Family
In The Modern World



  1. Two Vocations: marriage and celibacy;  2. Pastoral Practice;  3. Gradualness

Add 16 & 74 on Religious - contrast with Laet.Am.; add 81 on bro-sist.; 90 on Gradualness

Apostolic Exhortation Of Pope  John Paul II To The Episcopate,  To The Clergy, And To The Faithful Of The Whole Catholic Church

Gradualness and Conversion


9. To the injustice originating from sin-which has profoundly penetrated the structures of today’s world-and often hindering the family’s full realization of itself and of its fundamental rights, we must all set ourselves in opposition through a conversion of mind and heart, following Christ Crucified by denying our own selfishness: such a conversion cannot fail to have a beneficial and renewing influence even on the structures of society.

9. Iniustitiae proficiscenti ex peccato, quod etiam in mundi hodierni compagem alte invasit quodque familiam saepius impedit ne in se ipsa suisque iuribus primariis plene perficiatur, omnes resistere mentis animique conversione debemus, Christum crucifixum in amoris proprii negatione sectantes: huiusmodi vero conversio non poterit quin beneficam ac renovantem vim societatis quoque afferat structuris.

What is needed is a continuous, permanent conversion which, while requiring an interior detachment from every evil and an adherence to good in its fullness, is brought about concretely in steps which lead us ever forward.

Postulatur quidem continua ac perennis conversio, quae, tametsi flagitat ut homo intus divellatur ab omni malo addicaturque bono secundum eius plenitudinem, tamen reapse efficitur, quibusdam quasi graclibus, qui ulterius semper perducunt.

Thus a dynamic process develops, one which advances gradually with the progressive 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 and 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.

Ita sane processus fit dynamicus, qui pedetemptim protenditur dona Dei necnon postulata eius amoris supremi et absoluti in totam vitam personalem et socialem hominis progressione quadam inserendo. Hac de causa via paedagogica est necessaria ducens ad incrementum, ut singuli fideles et familiae et populi, quin immo ipse cultus humanus, ab iis quae de Christi mysterio iam acceperint, profecti, ad alia patienter ferantur et uberiorem cognitionem plenioremque exsecutionem consequantur huiusce mysterii vitae suae adiunctam.













11. God created man in His own image and likeness (Cf. Gn.1:26-27): calling him to existence through love, He called him at the same time for love.

[1] God is love (1 Jn 4: 8.) 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.*

*(Cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 12.)

[2] Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.

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 realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love:

[1] marriage and
[2] virginity or celibacy.

Either one is, in its own proper 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 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 corresponds to the demands of responsible fertility. This 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 Himself[23] 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 it is 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.



[…] 31. The Church is certainly aware of the many complex problems which couples in many countries face today in their task of transmitting life in a responsible way. She also recognizes the serious problem of population growth in the form it has taken in many parts of the world and its moral implications. However, she holds that consideration in depth of all the aspects of these problems offers a new and stronger confirmation of the importance of the authentic teach on birth regulation reproposed in the Second Vatican Council and in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. For this reason, together with the Synod Fathers I feel it is my duty to extend a pressing invitation to theologians, asking them to unite their efforts in order to collaborate with the hierarchical Magisterium and to commit themselves to the task of illustrating ever more clearly the biblical foundatons, the ethical grounds and the personalistic reasons behind this doctrine. Thus it will be possible, in the context of an organic exposition, to render the teaching of the Church on this fundamental question truly accessible to all people of good will, fostering a daily more enlightened and profound understand- ing of it: in this way God's plan will be egver more completely fulfilled for the salvation of humanity and for the glory of the Creator. A united effort by theologians in this regard, inspired by a convinced adherence to the Magisterium, which is the one authentic guide for the People of God, is particularly urgent for reasons that include the close link between Catholic teaching on this matter and the view of the human person that the Church proposes doubt or error in the field of marriage or the family involves obscuring to a serious extent the integral truth about the human person in a cultural situation that is already so often confused and contradictory. In fulfilment of their specific role, theologians are called upon to provide enlightenment and a deeper understanding, and their contribution is of incomparable value and represents a unique and highly meritorious service to the family and humanity. In an integral vision of the human person and of his or her vocation

32. In the context of a culture which seriously distorts or entirely misinterprets the true meaning of human sexuality, because it separates it from its essential reference to the person, the Church more urgently feels how irreplaceable is her mission of presenting sexuality as a value and task of the whole person, created male and female in the image of God.

In this perspective the Second Vatican Council clearly affirmed that “when there is a question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspect of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives. It must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his or her acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced.”(85)

It is precisely by moving from “an integral vision of man and of his vocation, not only his natural and earthly, but also his supernatural and eternal vocation,”(87) that Paul VI affirmed that the teaching of the Church “is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.”(88) And he concluded by re-emphasizing that there must be excluded as intrinsically immoral “every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.”(89)

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.

When, instead, by means of recourse to periods of infertility, the couple respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of human sexuality, they are acting as “ministers” of God’s plan and they “benefit from” their sexuality according to the original dynamism of “total” selfgiving, without manipulation or alteration.(90)

In the light of the experience of many couples and of the data provided by the different human sciences, theological reflection is able to perceive and is called to study further the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle: it is a difference which is much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is the woman, and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self- control. To accept the cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognize both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal communion and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection which constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also. In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension, and is never “used” as an “object” that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God’s creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction of nature and person.

33. In the field of conjugal morality the Church is Teacher and Mother and acts as such.

As Teacher, she never tires of proclaiming the moral norm that must guide the responsible transmission of life. The Church is in no way the author or the arbiter of this norm. In obedience to the truth which is Christ, whose image is reflected in the nature and dignity of the human person, the Church interprets the moral norm and proposes it to all people of good will, without concealing its demands of radicalness and perfection.

As Mother, the Church is close to the many married couples who find themselves in difficulty over this important point of the moral life: she knows well their situation, which is often very arduous and at times truly tormented by difficulties of every kind, not only individual difficulties but social ones as well; she knows that many couples encounter difficulties not only in the concrete fulfillment of the moral norm but even in understanding its inherent values.

(1) Pastoral Practice » cont




But it is one and the same Church that is both Teacher and Mother. And so the Church never ceases to exhort and encourage all to resolve whatever conjugal difficulties may arise without ever falsifying or compromising the truth: she is convinced that there can be no true contradiction between the divine law on transmitting life and that on fostering authentic married love.(91)

[1] Accordingly, the concrete pedagogy of the Church must always remain linked with her doctrine and never be separated from it. With the same conviction as my predecessor, I therefore repeat: “To diminish in no way the saving teaching of Christ constitutes an eminent form of charity for souls.”(92)

[2] On the other hand, authentic ecclesial pedagogy displays its realism and wisdom only by making a tenacious and courageous effort to create and uphold all the human conditions-psychological, moral and spiritual-indispensable for understanding and living the moral value and norm.

There is no doubt that these conditions must include persistence and patience, humility and strength of mind, filial trust in God and in His grace, and frequent recourse to prayer and to the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation.(93) Thus strengthened, Christian husbands and wives will be able to keep alive their awareness of the unique influence that the grace of the sacrament of marriage has on every aspect of married life, including therefore their sexuality: the gift of the Spirit, accepted and responded to by husband and wife, helps them to live their human sexuality in accordance with God’s plan and as a sign of the unitive and fruitful love of Christ for His Church.

But the necessary conditions alone in the knowledge of the bodily aspect and the body’s rhythms of fertility. Accordingly, every effort must be made to render such knowledge accessible to all married people and also to young adults before marriage, through clear, timely and serious instruction and education given by married couples, doctors and experts. Knowledge must then lead to education in self-control: hence the absolute necessity for the virtue of chastity and for permanent education in it. In the Christian view, chastity by no means signifies rejection of human sexuality or lack of esteem for it: rather it signifies spiritual energy capable of defending love from the perils of selfishness and aggressiveness, and able to advance it towards its full realization.

With deeply wise and loving intuition, Paul VI was only voicing the experience of many married couples when he wrote in his Encyclical:

To dominate instinct by means of one’s reason and free will undoubtedly requires ascetical practices, so that the affective manifestations of conjugal life may observe the correct order, in particular with regard to the observance of periodic continence. Yet this discipline which is proper to the purity of married couples, far from harming conjugal love, rather confers on it a higher human value. It demands continual effort, yet, thanks to its beneficent influence, husband and wife fully develop their personalities, being enriched with spiritual values. Such discipline bestows upon family life fruits of serenity and peace, and facilitates the solution of other problems; it favors attention for one’s partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love, and deepens their sense of responsibility. By its means, parents acquire the capacity of having a deeper and more efficacious influence in the education of their offspring



 The Moral Progress of Married People




On stages of growth; step-by-step advancement
see also
CCC Prin. of Gradualn. in Chast'y re. Homosexuality;
 "Tolerance"-Hum. Vit. 29
   Vademecum for Confessors § 3.1 § 3.9



34. It is always very important to have a right notion of the moral order, its values and its norms; and the importance is all the greater when the difficulties in the way of respecting them become more numerous and serious.

34. Magni semper interest rectam habere notion em ordinis moralis, eius bonorum atque normarum: vel pluris hoc interest quo plures gravioresque fiunt difficultates ea observandi.

Since the moral order reveals and sets forth the plan of God the Creator, for this very reason it cannot be something that harms man, something impersonal. On the contrary, by responding to the deepest demands of the human being created by God, it places itself at the service of that person’s full humanity with the delicate and binding love whereby God Himself inspires, sustains and guides every creature towards its happiness.

Quandoquidem Dei Creatoris propositum recludit et exponit, idcirco potissimum orelo moralis non potest homini esse aliquid, quod eum offendat eiusque abiciat personam; ex contrario, cum or do moralis respondet postulatis intimis hominis a Deo creati, tum plenae humanitati illius inservit suavi et vinciente amore, quo ipse Deus movet, sustinet, ducit ad felicitatem eius omnem creaturam.

The Law of Gradualness


But man, who has been called to live God’s wise and loving design in a responsible manner, is an historical being who day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth.

Homo tamen, qui vocatur ut e sapienti amanteque Dei consilio more conscio vivat, est animans historicus, qui de die in diem quasi exstruitur pluribus cum suis optionibus: ergo cognoscit, diligit, perficit morale bonum secundum incrementi eius gradus.

Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions.

Coniuges quoque intra moralem suam vitam destinantur ad iter perpetuum, suffulti sincera actuosaque voluntate melius usque cognoscendi bona, quae custodit lex divina ac promovet, necnon voluntate recta ac magnanima quasi concorporandi illa bona concretis in suis optionibus.

They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. “And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations.

Nihilominus legem respicere illos non licet tantummodo ut meram quandam optimae formae effigiem consequendam futuro aliquo tempore, sed eam considerent oportet ut Christi Domini praeceptum, facientes ut studiose difficultates supervadant. « Etenim sic dicta “ex gradualitatis” seu gradualis profectus idem esse non potest ac “gradualitas legis”, quasi varii sint gradus seu praecepti formae pro variis hominibus et condicionibus in lege divina.

In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.”(95)

Omnes coniuges in matrimonio ad sanctitatem secundum Dei cons ilium vocantur; atque huius vocationis praestantia ad effectum deducitur, quatenus persona human a praecepto Dei valet respondere, sereno animo gratiae divinae ac propriae voluntati confisa » (95).

On the same lines, it is part of the Church’s pedagogy that husbands and wives should first of all recognize clearly the teaching of Humanae vitae as indicating the norm for the exercise of their sexuality, and that they should endeavor to establish the conditions necessary for observing that norm.

Eodem pacto interest Ecclesiae paedagogiae ut coniuges imprimis clare agnoscant doctrinam Litterarum Humanae vitae inscriptarum, perinde ac regulam sua sexualitate utendi utque ex animo studeant condiciones necessarias comparare ad eandem hanc norm am servandam.

As the Synod noted, this pedagogy embraces the whole of married life. Accordingly, the function of transmitting life must be integrated into the overall mission of Christian life as a whole, which without the Cross cannot reach the Resurrection. In such a context it is understandable that sacrifice cannot be removed from family life, but must in fact be wholeheartedly accepted if the love between husband and wife is to be deepened and become a source of intimate joy.

Omnem coniugalem vitam haec amplectitur paedagogia, ut Synodus animadvertit. Quapropter vitae tradendae munus ingredi debet universale munus omnis vitae christianae, quae sine cruce nequit ad resurrectionem pervenire. Aequabiliter intellegitur auferri a vita familiari se abnegandi devovendique studium non posse, quin immo complectendum illud ex animo esse ut coniugalis amor altius inhaerescat intimaeque fiat fans laetitiae.

This shared progress demands reflection, instruction and suitable education on the part of the priests, religious and lay people engaged in family pastoral work: they will all be able to assist married people in their human and spiritual progress, a progress that demands[:]

Commune hoc iter effiagitat ponderationem, nuntiorum communicationem, educationem aptam sacerdotum et religiosorum et laicorum in pastorali opera pro familia versantium: ii omnes auxilio esse poterunt. coniugibus in itinere eorum humane et spiritali, quod prae se fert

[1] awareness of sin,

conscientiam peccati

[2] a sincere commitment to observe the moral law, and 

ac sincerum officium servandi legem moralem

[3] the ministry of reconciliation.

necnon reconciliationis ministerium.

It must also be kept in mind that conjugal intimacy involves the wills of two persons, who are however called to harmonize their mentality and behavior: this requires much patience, understanding and time. Uniquely important in this field is unity of moral and pastoral judgment by priests, a unity that must be carefully sought and ensured, in order that the faithful may not have to suffer anxiety of conscience.(96)

Agnosci etiam debet in intima coniugum necessitudine voluntates duorum hominum implicari, vocatorum tamen ad mentium morumque convenientiam: poscere vero id permultum patientiae, lenitudinis ac temporis. Peculiaris omnino ponderis hac in re est unanimis iudiciorum moralium et pastoralium consensus in sacerdotibus: haec congruentia accurate conquiratur et custodiatur necesse est ne fideles pati cogantur conscientiae angores (96).

It will be easier for married people to make progress if, with respect for the Church’s teaching and with trust in the grace of Christ, and with the help and support of the pastors of souls and the entire ecclesial community, they are able to discover and experience the liberating and inspiring value of the authentic love that is offered by the Gospel and set before us by the Lord’s commandment.

Coniugum ergo iter expedietur, si, doctrinam Ecclesiae magni existimantes magnopereque Christi gratiae fidentes tum etiam adiuvantibus eos et comitantibus animarum pastoribus cunctaque ecclesiali communitate, detexerint illi et experti fuerint vim liberantem et promoventem veri amoris, quem Evangelium praebet ac Domini proponit mandatum.







35. With regard to the question of lawful birth regulation, the ecclesial community at the present time must take on the task of instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way.

In this matter, while the Church notes with satisfaction the results achieved by scientific research aimed at a more precise knowledge of the rhythms of women’s fertility, and while it encourages a more decisive and wide-ranging extension of that research, it cannot fail to call with renewed vigor on the responsibility of all-doctors, experts, marriage counselors, teachers and married couples-who can actually help married people to live their love with respect for the structure and finalities of the conjugal act which expresses that love. This implies a broader, more decisive and more systematic effort to make the natural methods of regulating fertility known, respected and applied.(97)

A very valuable witness can and should be given by those husbands and wives who through the joint exercise of periodic continence have reached a more mature personal responsibility with regard to love and life. As Paul VI wrote: “To them the Lord entrusts the task of making visible to people the holiness and sweetness of the law which unites the mutual love of husband and wife with their cooperation with the love of God, the author of human life.”(98)


As well as the family, which is the object but above all the subject of pastoral care of the family, one must also mention the other main agents in this particular sector.

Bishops and Priests

73. The person principally responsible in the diocese for the pastoral care of the family is the Bishop. As father and pastor, he must exercise particular solicitude in this clearly priority sector of pastoral care. He must devote to it personal interest, care, time, personnel and resources, but above all personal support for the families and for all those who, in the various diocesan structures, assist him in the pastoral care of the family. It will be his particular care to make the diocese ever more truly a “diocesan family,” a model and source of hope for the many families that belong to it. The setting up of the Pontifical Council for the Family is to be seen in this light: to be a sign of the importance that I attribute to pastoral care for the family in the world, and at the same time to be an effective instrument for aiding and promoting it at every level.

The Bishops avail themselves especially of the priests, whose task-as the Synod expressly emphasized-constitutes an essential part of the Church’s ministry regarding marriage and the family. The same is true of deacons to whose care this sector of pastoral work may be entrusted.

Their responsibility extends not only to moral and liturgical matters but to personal and social matters as well. They must support the family in its difficulties and sufferings, caring for its members and helping them to see their lives in the light of the Gospel. It is not superfluous to note that from this mission, if it is exercised with due discernment and with a truly apostolic spirit, the minister of the Church draws fresh encouragement and spiritual energy for his own vocation too and for the exercise of his ministry.

Priests and deacons, when they have received timely and serious preparation for this apostolate, must unceasingly act towards families as fathers, brothers, pastors and teachers, assisting them with the means of grace and enlightening them with the light of truth. Their teaching and advice must therefore always be in full harmony with the authentic Magisterium of the Church, in such a way as to help the People of God to gain a correct sense of the faith, to be subsequently applied to practical life. Such fidelity to the Magisterium will also enable priests to make every effort to be united in their judgments, in order to avoid troubling the consciences of the faithful.

In the Church, the pastors and the laity share in the prophetic mission of Christ: the laity do so by witnessing to the faith by their words and by their Christian lives; the pastors do so by distinguishing in that witness what is the expression of genuine faith from what is less in harmony with the light of faith; the family, as a Christian community, does so through its special sharing and witness of faith. Thus there begins a dialogue also between pastors and families. Theologians and experts in family matters can be of great help in this dialogue, by explaining exactly the content of the Church’s Magisterium and the content of the experience of family life. In this way the teaching of the Magisterium becomes better understood and the way is opened to its progressive development. But it is useful to recall that the proximate and obligatory norm in the teaching of the faith-also concerning family matters-belongs to the hierarchical Magisterium. Clearly defined relationships between theologians, experts in family matters and the Magisterium are of no little assistance for the correct understanding of the faith and for promoting-within the boundaries of the faith-legitimate pluralism.

Men and Women Religious

74. The contribution that can be made to the apostolate of the family by men and women religious and consecrated persons in general finds its primary, fundamental and original expression precisely in their consecration to God. By reason of this consecration, “for all Christ’s faithful religious recall that wonderful marriage made by God, which will be fully manifested in the future age, and in which the Church has Christ for her only spouse,”[169] and they are witnesses to that universal charity which, through chastity embraced for the Kingdom of heaven, makes them ever more available to dedicate themselves generously to the service of God and to the works of the apostolate.

Hence the possibility for men and women religious, and members of Secular Institutes and other institutes of perfection, either individually or in groups, to develop their service to families, with particular solicitude for children, especially if they are abandoned, unwanted, orphaned, poor or handicapped. They can also visit families and look after the sick; they can foster relationships of respect and charity towards one-parent families or families that are in difficulties or are separated; they can offer their own work of teaching and counseling in the preparation of young people for marriage, and in helping couples towards truly responsible parenthood; they can open their own houses for simple and cordial hospitality, so that families can find there the sense of God’s presence and gain a taste for prayer and recollection, and see the practical examples of lives lived in charity and fraternal joy as members of the larger family of God.

I would like to add a most pressing exhortation to the heads of institutes of consecrated life to consider-always with substantial respect for the proper and original charism of each one-the apostolate of the family as one of the priority tasks, rendered even more urgent by the present state of the world.



III - Praeter familiam — obiectum videlicet, sed imprimis subiectum eiusdem pastoralis curae familiae — alii etiam sunt memorandi iique praecipui, qui in peculiari hac provincia operantur.

73. Princeps curator et auctor rei pastoralis familiae in dioecesi est episcopus. Ut Pater et Pastor ipse oportet sit peculiari ratione sollicitus de hac parte, sine dubio ceteris praestante, ministerii pastoralis. Ei oportet curam, sollicitudinem, tempus, administros, copias impendat; praesertim vero suum ipsius adiumentum familiis et omnibus, qui in variis dioecesis structuris ei opitulantur in cura pastorali familiae, praebeat. Maxime ei cordi sit ut dioecesis sua magis magisque fiat vera « familia dioecesana », exemplar et fons spei pro tot familiis, ad hanc pertinentibus. Constitutio Pontificii Consilii pro Familia, ad hoc quod attinet, eo putetur spectare ut sit signum momenti, quod nos curae pastorali familiae in mundo tribuimus et ut simul sit efficax instrumentum, quo ea omnibus gradibus adiuvetur. Episcopi praesertim presbyteris utuntur, quorum munus — sicut Synodus aperte illustravit — pars est primaria ministerii Ecclesiae in utilitatem matrimonii atque familiae. Idem dicendum est de iis diaconis, quibus curatio huiusce provinciae pastoralis fortasse concreditur.

Eorum officium non solum quaestiones morales et liturgicas amplectitur, sed etiam personales atque sociales. Ipsi oportet familiam sustineant in eius difficultatibus et angustiis, eiusdem membris se consociantes eamque adiuvantes ut vitam suam, luce Evangelii refulgente, considerent. Non supervacaneum est animadvertere ex hac missione, si exerceatur necessario habito discrimine veroque cum spiritu apostolico, Ecclesiae ministrum nova accipere incitamenta ac spiritales vires pro sua etiam vocatione ipsaque ministerii exercitatione.

Suo tempore intentoque studio ad hunc apostolatum instituti, sacerdos vel diaconus oportet continenter se gerant erga familias tamquam patres, fratres, pastores et magistros, eas gratiae iuvantes subsidiis ac veritatis lumine collustrantes. Necesse igitur est ut institutio, quam tradunt, et consilia eorum plane cum germano Ecclesiae Magisterio congruant ita ut Dei Populo auxilia praebeant ad rectum sensum fidei sibi. comparandum, qui postea ad ipsam vitam oportet aptetur. Haec erga Magisterium fidelitas efficiet quoque ut sacerdotes omni navitate iudiciorum suorum congruentiam curent ea mente ut a fidelibus suis conscientiae auferre valeant formidines.

Pastores et laici in Ecclesia participes sunt propheticae Christi missionis; laici testimonium perhibendo fidei verbis atq ue christiana vita; pastores distinguendo in hoc testimonio, quod ex germana fide oriatur ab eo quod minus congruit cum lumine fidei; familia, ut christiana communitas, sua peculiari fidei participatione ac testimonio. Itaque etiam inter pastores et familias dialogus inchoatur. Theologi et quaestionum familiarium periti possunt magnopere auxilio esse huic collocutioni accurate explanando argumenta sive Ecclesiae Magisterii sive experientiae vitae familiaris. Tali ratione Magisterii doctrina melius intellegitur atque via aperitur ad eius auctum progredientem.Tamen decet monere normam proximam et obstringentem, ad fidei doctrinam quod attinet — etiam quoad quaestiones familiae — ad hierarchicum Magisterium spectare. Rationes inter theologos, quaestionum familiarium peritos et Magisterium sine ambagibus intercedentes haud paulum conferunt ad rectam fidem intellegendam et ad fovendum — intra ipsius fines — legitimum pluralismum, qui dicitur.

74. Partes, quas religiosi ac religiosae necnon in universum fideles Deo consecrati conferre valent ad apostolatum familiae, imprimis ac fundamentali singularique ratione ipsa eorum consecratione Deo facta ostenduntur, quae eos reddit « coram omnibus Christifidelibus» tamquam evocantes « mirabile illud ... connubium a Deo conditum et in futuro saeculo plene manifestandum quo Ecclesia unicum sponsum Christum habet » (169), necnon testes illius caritatis cunctos complectentis, quae per castitatem propter Regnum caelorum susceptam eos efficit usque paratiores ad sese liberaliter devovendos ministerio divino apostolatusque operibus.

Hinc fieri potest ut religiosi ac religiosae, sodales Institutorum saecularium et aliarum perfectionis Institutionum, singillatim vel coniunctim, ministerium factitent in bonum familiarum, peculiarem curam gerentes infantium, praesertim derelictorum, inoptatorum et orphanorum, pauperum vel impeditorum, invisentes familias aegrisque assidentes, excolentes necessitudinem observantiae et caritatis cum familiis semiplenis, versantibus in difficultate aut disiunctis, praebentes propriam docendi et consilia dandi industriam in praeparandis iuvenibus ad matrimonium et in subsidiis praestandis ipsis coniugibus ad procreationem vere responsabilem, pan dentes proprias domos simplici comique hospitalitati ut ibi familiae experiri valeant sensum Dei et spiritalem gustum precationis animique in Deum collecti et verum exemplum vitae transactae in caritate fraternaque laetitia tamquam inter membra amplioris familiae Dei.

His addere libet nobis instantissimam cohortationem, quam praepositis Institutorum vitae Deo consecratae adhibemus ut existiment — proprium et primigenum charisma quoad substantiam semper observantes — apostolatum ad familias directum velut unum ex potioribus officiis magis quidem urgentibus ob hodiernam rerum condicionem.




e) Divorced Persons Who Have Remarried

84. Daily experience unfortunately shows that people who have obtained a divorce usually intend to enter into a new union, obviously not with a Catholic religious ceremony. Since this is an evil that, like the others, is affecting more and more Catholics as well, the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay. The Synod Fathers studied it expressly. The Church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The Church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.

Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.

Together with the Synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope.

However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”180

180 [John Paul II, Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops, 7 (Oct. 25, 1980): AAS 72 (1980), 1082.

84. Cotidianum rerum experimentum pro dolor docet eum qui divortium fecerit, plerumque animo intendere novam transire ad convivendi societatem, sine ritu religioso catholicorum, ut patet. Cum de malo agatur, quod, sicut et alia, latius usque inficiat etiam greges catholicos, haec difficultas est cum cura et sine ulla mora omnino aggredienda. Synodi Patres eam data opera investigaverunt. Nam Ecclesia, idcirco instituta ut ad salutem omnes homines imprimisque baptizatos perduceret, non potest sibimet ipsis illos derelinquere, qui — iam sacramentali vinculo matrimonii coniuncti — transire conati sunt ad nuptias novas. Nitetur propterea neque umquam defessa curabit Ecclesia ut iis praesto sint salutis instrumenta.

Noverint pastores ex veritatis amore se bene distinguere debere inter vadas rei condiciones. Etenim aliquid interest inter eos qui sincero animo contenderunt primum matrimonium servare quique prorsus iniuste sunt deserti, atque eos qui sua gravi culpa matrimonium canonice validum everterunt. Sunt denique alii, qui novam inierunt convivendi societatem educationis filiorum gratia atque interdum certi sua in intima conscientia sunt superius matrimonium iam irreparabiliter disruptum numquam validum fuisse.

Una cum Synodo vehementer cohortamur pastores totamque fidelium communitatem ut divortio digressos adiuvent, caventes sollicita cum caritate ne illos ab Ecclesia seiunctos arbitrentur, quoniam iidem possllnt, immo debent ut baptizati vitam ipsius participare. Hortandi praeterea sunt ut verbum Dei exaudiant, sacrificio Missae intersint, preces fundere perseverent, opera carita tis necnon incepta communitatis pro iustitia adiuvent, filios in christiana fide instituant, spiritum et opera paenitentiae colant ut cotidie sic Dei gratiam implorent. Pro illis Ecclesia precetur, eos confirmet, matrem se exhibeat iis misericordem itaque in fide eos speque sustineat.

Nihilominus Ecclesia inculcat consuetudinem suam, in Sacris ipsis Litteris innixam, non admittendi ad eucharisticam communion em fideles, qui post divortium factum novas nuptias inierunt. Ipsi namque impediunt ne admittantur, cum status eorum et condicio vitae obiective dissideant ab illa amoris coniunctione inter Christum et Ecclesiam, quae Eucharistia significatur atque peragitur. Restat praeterea alia peculiaris ratio pastoralis: si homines illi ad Eucharistiam admitterentur, in errorem turbationemque inducerentur tideles de Ecclesiae doctrina super indissolubilitate matrimonii.

Porro reconciliatio in sacramento paenitentiae — quae ad Eucharistiae sacramentum aperit viam — illis unis concedi potest, qui dolentes quod signum violaverint Foederis et fidelitatis Christi, sincere parati sunt vitae formam iam non amplius adversam matrimonii indissolubitati suscipere. Hoc poscit rever a ut, quoties vir ac mulier gravibus de causis — verbi gratia, ob liberorum educationem — non valeant necessitati separationis satisfacere, « officium in se suscipiant omnino continenter vivendi, scilicet se abstinendi ab aetibus, qui solis coniugibus competunt » (180).

Observantia similiter erga matrimonii sacramentum, tum etiam erga coniuges eorumque familiares necnon erg a ipsam fidelium communitatem, vetat quemlibet pastorem ullam propter causam vel praetextum etiam pastoralem ne pro divortio digressis, qui novas nuptias inierunt, ritus cuiusvis generis faciant; hi enim ostenderent novas nuptias sacramentales validas celebrari ac proinde errorem inicerent de indissolubilitate prioris matrimonii valide contracti.

Hoc quidem pacto agens, Ecclesia profitetur fidelitatem suam in Christum eiusque veritatem; simul vero materno affectu se gerit erga hos filios suos, potissimum eos qui nulla propria intercedente culpa a proprio derelicti sunt legitimo coniuge.

Firma insuper cum fiducia Ecclesia credit quotquot a mandato Domini recesserint in eoque etiamnunc statu vivant, a Deo gratiam conversionis ac salutis assequi posse, si in precatione, paenitentia, caritate perseveraverint.

85. Verba denique adiungere cupimus de hominum ordine, quos ob concreta, in quibus degunt, adiuncta — ac saepius praeter meditatam suam voluntatem — nos peculiari ratione prope esse Cor Christi putamus ac dignos affectione actuosaque cura Ecclesiae atque pastorum.








85) Cf. the Sixth Synod of Bishops' Message to Christian Families in the Modern World (24 October 1980), 5.

86) Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern world Gaudium et Spes, 51.

87) Encyclical Humanae Vitae, 7: AAS 60 (1968), 485.

88) Ibid., 12: loc. cit., 488-489.

89) Ibid., 14: loc. cit., 490.

90) Ibid., 13: loc. cit., 489.

91) Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 51.

92) Encyclical Humanae Vitae, 29: AAS 60 (1968), 501.

93) Cf. ibid., 25: loc. cit. 498-499.

94) Ibid., 21: loc. cit., 496.

95) John Paul II, Homily at the close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops (25 October 1980), 8: AAS 72 (1980), 1083.

96) Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae Vitae, 28: AAS 60 (1968), 501.

97) Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Delegates of the Centre de Liaison des Equipes de Recherche (3 November 1979), 9: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2 (1979), 1035; and cf. Address to the par-

ticipants in the First Congress for the Family of Africa and Europe (15 January 1981): L'Osservatore Romano, 16 January 1981.

98) Encyclican Humanae Vitae, 25: AAS 60 (1968), 499.

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