The Catholic News. Jan 10, 1982.
Last month Pope John Paul issued a 175-page apostolic exhortation, FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO (On family life) which gave his comments on the 1980 Bishop Synod on "The role of the Christian family in the Modern World."
The following are some of the points made by the Pope:
MARRIAGE: It is a fundamental duty of the Church to reaffirm strongly the indissolubility of marriage. The Pope praises and encourages couples who persevere in their marriages despite difficulties and those who, abandoned by their partners, do not remarry. Priests and laity must help them.
WOMEN: Men and women have equal responsibility and dignity. Women are justified in seeking a career, but their work in the home and in rearing children is irreplaceable.
They should not be compelled to go out to work to enable the family to live in a dignified way.
VICTIMS: The mentality which honours career women more than wives and mothers must be overcome.
Women are the first victims of the mentality that treats human beings as objects of trade.
This leads to oppression of the weak, pornography, prostitution and discrimination in education, jobs and wages.
CHILDREN: The family must promote the child's personal dignity and respect its rights, especially if it is sick or handicapped.
THE ELDERLY: Industrial communities which segregate the elderly cause them acute suffering, impoverishing the family. The Church must help society to give the elderly an useful role.
LIFE: It is a serious offence against human dignity and justice for governments to limit the freedom of married couples to decide the size of their families.
It is also gravely unjust to offer poor countries economic aid only if they agree to contraception, sterilisation or abortion.
FAMILY PLANNING: The Pope asks theologians to cooperate with himself and the bishops and show more clearly the biblical and ethical reason of the Church's traditional teaching on birth control. Husbands and wives who use contraceptive devices do not give themselves totally to each other. The acceptance of a woman's cycles of fertility means mutual respect, shared responsibility and self-control.
EDUCATION: Parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. Scarcely anything can compensate for parental failure in this matter.
The right and duty of parents to educate their children cannot be extirely delegated or usurped by others.
Sex education, a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their guidance whether at home or in school.
Church and State must help families to educate children, they must never forget that parents' God-given rights are inalienable.
Conversely, parents have a serious duty to work with the teachers and school authorities. Where schools teach anti-Christian ideologies, families and clergy must together help children to keep the Faith.
THE STATE: Families, singly or together, should help the poor and people that State welfare cannot help. If families do not help to transform society they will be the first victims of the evils they have apathetically allowed to develop.
The State cannot and must not take away from families functions they can just as well perform on their own in the free organisations.
Indeed the State must positively encourage family initiative by providing economic, social, educational, and political assistance.
FAMILY PRAYER: Only by praying with their children can a father and mother — exercising their royal priesthood — implant a firm faith that will not die.
The Pope encourages morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals, reading and meditating upon the Bible, preparation for reception of the sacraments and devotion of the sacraments and devotion to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady.
ROSARY : He strongly recommends the Family Rosary.
PASTORAL CARE: The pastoral care of the family is an urgent priority. Not only the family, but the Church and society prepare young people for their future responsibilities. The Pope calls for better and more intensive marriage preparation, especially for engaged couples who have difficulties or shortcomings in Christian doctrine and practice.
Bishops' Conferences should issue a Directory for the Pastoral Care of the Family.
This should lay down the minimum content, duration and methods of marriage preparation courses — doctrinal, educational, legal and medical.
But omission of such preparation must not be an impediment to the celebration of marriage. And priests must not refuse to marry couples in Church, even if their motives are social as well as religious.
But he must refuse if the couple reject explicitly and formally what the Church intends in the marriage of baptised persons.
THE PARISH: A Higher Institute to study family problems has been set up at the Lateran University in Rome and in many dioceses.
Bishops should ensure that as many priests as possible attend specialised courses before taking on parish responsibilities.
The courses should also be available to doctors, lawyers, psychologists, teachers and other professional people who can help the family.
MIXED MARRIAGES: Marriages between Catholics and other baptised persons contain elements that should be developed for their own sake and for their contribution to Christian unity, especially when both parties are faithful to their religious duties.
Efforts should be made to establish cordial cooperation between Catholic and non-Catholic clergy from the time that preparations begin for the wedding, even though this is not always easy.
CIVIL MARRIAGES: Catholics who live together after a civil marriage cannot be admitted to the sacraments. But they must be treated with great love.
DIVORCES: The Church community must give the utmost support to separated couples, especially to the innocent party, and to divorcees.
The Pope calls on priests and people to make sure that divorcees do not consider themselves separated from the Church.
As baptised persons they can and must share in her life. They should be encouraged to persevere in prayer, attend Mass and to bring up their children in the Faith.
But divorced persons who have remarried may not be admitted to Holy Communion. Priests, for whatever reason, even of a pastoral nature, may not perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry.
SINGLE PEOPLE: No one is without a family in this world. The Church is a home and a family for everyone, especially those who "labour and are heavy laden." — Universe.
The Catholic News. Sunday, January 10, 1982 (page 8)