The Pontifical Council for the Family was created by His Holiness John Paul II on May 9, 1981 with the Motu Proprio "Familia a Deo Instituta". Previously, Pope Paul Vl had created the "Committee for the Family".
The new Council, as John Paul II explained, arose from the desire to respond to the expectations of the Christian people as gathered together by the Episcopate in the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family (1980), and later presented by the Holy Father in the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" (November 22, 1981).
In 1988, in the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia "Pastor Bonus", John Paul II further specified the tasks entrusted to the Pontifical Council for the Family (cf. art. 139-141).
This Department of the Roman Curia has:
1) a President who directs and represents the Council, with the help of a Secretary and an Under-Secretary;
2) a Committee of Bishops which assists the President;
3) a group of Members, lay persons, men and women, especially married persons, from different parts of the world.
A group of Consultors, experts in disciplines related to the family and the defense of life, also lend their collaboration. Others are called upon by the President according to need and circumstances.
The nominations are for a five-year period.
The work of the Secretariat is carried out by Officials from various countries.
of the Pontifical Council for the Family
In its areas of competence, the Council collaborates with the other Departments and bodies of the Roman Curia regarding pastoral care of the family and the defense of human life.
It maintains contact with the Bishops, the Episcopal Conferences and their departments concerned with pastoral care of the family.
The Council follows the activities of Catholic organizations and movements for the family and the defense of life and is attentive to initiatives of other non-Catholic organizations which are respectful of natural law and a sound humanism.
Tasks and Competencies
of the Pontifical Council for the Family
The Council has a pastoral and promotional task with regard to the family and life.
"...it promotes pastoral attention to families and favors their rights and dignity in the Church and in civil society so that they can better fulfill their own functions" (Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 139).
"...it also supports and coordinates initiatives for the defense of human life from conception, and in favor of responsible procreation" (Pastor Bonus, art. 141, § 3).
Based on the Doctrinal Magisterium (competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), the following areas pertain to the Pontifical Council for the Family:
1. Theology and catechesis of the family
2. Conjugal and family spirituality
3. Rights of the family
4. Rights of the child
5. The elderly and the family
6. Information concerning the social and religious situation of the family
7. Studies on the family
8. Support for pastoral care of the family
9. Formation of lay persons for the family apostolate
10. Marriage preparation courses
11. Sex education
12. Responsible procreation and the natural methods of regulating fertility
13. Demography: ethical and pastoral problems
14. Reflection on and dissemination of the documents of the Magisterium (Encyclical Humanae Vitae, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio).
1. Contraception and abortion
3. Genetic engineering and prenatal diagnosis; artificial procreation and manipulation of embryos; transplants of organs and tissues
5. Support for pro-life organizations and those which promote the natural regulation of fertility
Other themes entrusted to the Council in relation to pastoral care of the Family
1. Drug abuse and addiction
4. Homosexuality and sexual deviations
5. Ethical and pastoral problems related to AIDS
Familia et Vita. Regular bulletin published in English French and Spanish.
Active Aging. Texts of John Paul II—1978-1982. Published in English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Family Hope of the World—The Jubilee of Families. Ed. Messaggero, Padua/Citta Nuova, 1984.
Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Published in Italian by LDC-Leumann (Turin) from the Third General Assembly (1985).
Marriage and Family: Experiencing the Church's Teaching in Married Life. Proceedings of the Third General Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family in English. Ignatius Press, San Francisco (1989)
In the Service of Life (Instrumentum laboris). Document published at the conclusion of a high level meeting of experts on the defense of human life, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family (Rome, April 20-22, 1991). Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 00120 Vatican City.
From Despair to Hope: Family and Drug Addiction. Document published at the conclusion of a high level meeting of experts on the family and drug addiction, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family (Rome, June 20-22, 1991). Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 00120 Vatican City.
Proceedings of the meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family on: Natural Methods of Regulating Fertility: The Authentic Alternative (Rome, December 9-11, 1992).
Proceedings of the meetings sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family on: The Flights of Children and the Family (Rome, June 1992); The Exploitation of Children Through Prostitution and Pornography(Bangkok, September 1992); The Family and Child Labor (Manila, July 1993).
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY
Palazzo San Calisto, Piazza San Calisto 16
00120 Vatican City
Printed with permission from Priests for Life.