Theology Essays – Familiaris Consortio Essay

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In 1981, as a consequence of a Synod of Bishops specially devoted to farther consciousness of the ( so ) current apprehension of matrimony and the Christian household in the modern universe, Pope John Paul II promulgated an apostolic exhortation entitledFamiliarisConsortio( On the household ) .

The well-known biographer of John Paul II, George Weigel, claims that in private conversations held with the sanctum male parent he came to larn that the Catholic Pope regardedFamiliaris Consortioas one of his favourite letters he had of all time written as Catholic Pope to the household of God (Witness to Hope, 385 ) . The papers is a wide-ranging and wide one in footings of the sheer comprehensiveness of the content covered in this, and it is hence barely any admiration that a outstanding Catholic encyclopaedia should state of the apostolic exhortation that it is one of the most of import beginnings for the theological significance of the sacrament of Marriage ( Stravinskas,Catholic Encyclopedia, 628) .

Many authors who have taken this exhortation as their springingpoint to establish into assorted issues, which are accessory to marriageper Se, have however been able to use specific parts ofFamiliarisConsortio, owing to its enormousness of content. What we will concentrate on in thefollowing pages is a sort of response of the papers by Catholics ( whetherclergy or laypeople ) and its instructions over the more than two decennaries since itspromulgation. There are surely countries of convergence among those who havecommented on the papers, and these ought to be paid attending to in coming toan apprehension of an genuinely Roman Catholic consciousness of the variousaspects of married life among Christians.

Opening Observations Made inFamiliaris Consortio

Sectionone of the papers expressly opens up the contents and applications of thedocument to a wide audience. It is written for ( 1 ) those populating in fidelity tothe Church ‘s extant instructions and patterns in the country of marriage, ( 2 ) thosewho have become bewildered by the modern-day challenges infringing upon thefamily, and even to ( 3 ) those who live in unfair unknowingness of the freedom andhuman rights guaranteed to them to hold all the comprehensiveness that matrimony mightoffer. In other words, the intended audience of the papers is anintrinsically oecumenic one. It is non simply turn toing Catholics in goodstanding with the Church, but the sanctum male parent reaches his manus out to assisteveryone fighting with the assorted troubles in modern-day married life.This is important, since most anterior paperss, whetherCasti Connubiiof Pope Pius XI,Humanae Vitaeof Pope Paul VI, or even paperss of theSecond Vatican Council, the intended audience has been, if non entirely, surely chiefly Catholics.

PopeJohn Paul II notes in subdivision six of the exhortation that the state of affairs ofmarriage and the household in modern-day life is an dry 1 in the sense thatthere are both applaudable progresss being made in Western civilization and enormoussetbacks. It is non so simple a state of affairs as to claim that Western civilization isdoing nil other than assailing and impeding the household and married life.Some of the good apprehensions reached by the modern-day Western universe arethe following: an grasp of human freedom for both sexes, a publicity ofeducation and love for kids, and a publicity of the self-respect of adult females andresponsible reproduction. However, some of the reverses against the familyshould besides be noted. They include the undermentioned: the several freedom of thespouses has been carried to an utmost sense of liberty, the misconstructionof authorization and the passing on of values with regard to the relation ofparents to their kids, and the on-going flagellums of abortion, growingdivorce rates, sterilisation, and an overall prophylactic outlook. It is forthese grounds and many others besides that the Synod of Bishops met and wishedPope John Paul II to be the primary interpreter for their decisions reached.Everything is non good for the modern-day household, and Pope John Paul IIreasons that the household is non simply aportionof an overall society ( instead, it is the really foundation of all society, as we shall explore subsequently ) , any onslaughts on its public assistance must non travel unreciprocated. Social unfairnesss toward thefamily must be dealt with straight, and this is a primary ground for theappearance ofFamiliaris Consortio.

Building on Prior Teaching for Fundamental Precepts

Prior to the visual aspect of this apostolic exhortation, there hadappeared two really of import paperss on the nature of matrimony and the family.They were the encyclical missiveHumanae Vitaeand an authoritativedocument coming out of the Vatican II Church Council calledLumens Gentium.Pope John Paul II, as all Catholic Popes throughout history have done, takes the priorteaching on matrimony and the household ( particularly that seen in the twentiethcentury ) as his get downing points on which to construct. He references several timesthroughout his apostolic exhortation the encyclicalHumanae Vitae ( HV ), particularly when the content of his instruction has to make with the most explicitportions ofHVon the connubial act and contraceptive method.

Freedom Versus Autonomy

There appears in this compendious encyclicalHumanae Vitaea veryprofound line, which doubtless could be expounded upon. In subdivision 21 of theencyclical, Pope Paul VI declares that selfishness is the enemy of true love. This recalls an earlier pointmade in our essay. John Paul II notes the unsafe inclination of contemporaryspouses to represent an isolationist and independent attitude in matrimony (FC,6 ) . In fact, for the jobs listed above which are antithetical to marriageand household life, the Pope believes there is one job most basically thecause of the others. He writes, At the root of these negative phenomena therefrequently lies a corruptness of the thought and the experience of freedom, conceived non as a capacity for recognizing the truth of God ‘s program for marriageand the household, but as an independent power of self-affirmation, frequently againstothers, for one ‘s ain selfish wellbeing. And if selfishness is thought to bethe enemy of true love, so any partner moving about entirely in his ownself-interest is destructive toward the really bond of his matrimony to hisspouse, which bond is love itself.

There is an interesting sarcasm involved in selfish individualismversus a flourishing and reciprocally reciprocating action of love toward anotheroutside of oneself. Whereas one would say that, as is frequently franklyadmitted, twosomes will be given to non desire to get married because they merely want tocontinue basking the other individual in the relationship without giving over to aserious committedness ( Cf. Barbara Markey, Cohabitation: Response over Reaction ) .Or, farther than this, somemarriedtwosomes will either set off childrenindefinitely or make up one’s mind to non hold them at all for the expressed intent ofwishing to sexually bask the partner in an uninhibited mode. The strangeconsequence though, as Pope Paul VI noted inHumanae Vitae, is that thiseventually leads to going excessively egoistic sexually, which eventuates inman ( or adult female ) coming to see the other as a mere instrument of selfishenjoyment and no longer as the coveted comrade for life (HV, 17 ) .

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo notes that the holding of a household ina natural and ordered manner ( such as the Church teaches twosome to make ) does leadto the exact antonym of selfishness and isolationism in a marriagerelationship. And this is a necessary effect ( as in, it is intrinsic innature itself ) of holding kids. Cardinal Trujillo offers some illustrations thatit is the nature of household to be other-centered in even the simplest ways. Henotes, Everyone has to assist everyone else in thefamily, (FCand the Family, 3 ) . It is merely a affair of beingpractically impossible to be rapped up in oneself in the context of a familywith legion kids. The older kids will hold to assist the younger onesat times ( e.g. , to set on their places before they go outside ) , and the adultswill invariably have to assist all of the kids to turn into responsibleadults. It is merely intrinsic to the nature of holding a household that one growsto be concerned with the well-being and involvements of others around.

In these remarks by Cardinal Trujillo there isan explication of the cardinal philosophies expressed in subdivisions 42-43 ofFamiliaris.In these subdivisions, Pope John Paul II notes that the day-to-day life of a good familyis characterized by sharing and deep Communion. The community of a household isthe really answer needed to queer selfish isolationism. This type ofother-centered Communion is seen in assorted facets of which the Cardinal haselaborated. For illustration, the household is guided by an overruling rule offree giving, and this free giving takes the signifier ofheartfelt credence, brush and duologue, disinterested handiness, generous service and deep solidarity (FC,43 ) . Children assisting youngerchildren whenever there arises a demand for such aid is a ready illustration ofdisinterested handiness. The older kid helps the younger non because he isgaining something for it, but instead because when a kid needs aid, particularly your ain sibling, you merely assist that kid. This besides fosters arecognition of the intrinsic value in each single human being.

Love and Life the Very Foundation of Marriage and Family

In his recent address Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo agreed with Pope JohnPaul II in seeing the household as that whichsignifierssocieties. Harmonizing tothe Pope, the household is society ‘s foundation, which continually bolsterssociety by being its continual giver of life (FC,42 ) . Cardinal Trujillonotes that this thought is in resistance to current worldly sentiment mostreadily embodied by the United Nations in their recent conferences. The generalattitude expressed in these U.N. conferences has been to believe that societiesare merely aggregations of persons (Familiaris Consortioand theFamily, 3 ) . But, nature seems to reason against this misguided thought. Societiesare non the 1s bring forthing and nurturing and giving the persons to thesociety. These responsibilities are fulfilled by households, and the persons producedusually repeat this cardinal rhythm of nature by making their ain familiesand bring forthing and fostering their ain progeny.

Underliing the instruction of the household as the ultimate counterpoison toisolationism, are the two most cardinal worlds of matrimony: love andlife. The two are barely reciprocally sole, grounds John Paul II. On thecontrary, connubial love expressed as it out to be expressed harmonizing to thenature of adult male tends toward the creative activity of life. Procreation is a naturalfruit of the conjugal act, harmonizing toHumanae Vitae. Many thinkerssince have latched on to this cardinal Catholic point, including John PaulII in this exhortation. Harmonizing to Catholic instruction, adult male is ahylomorphicintegrity. That is, he is composed of affair and signifier, which for adult male correspond tothe organic structure and psyche, which are basically united. That is, what it is tobea homo is to be a soul-body integrity (FC,11 ) . But, adult male is besides created inthe image and similitude of God, who is love. It follows that Love is thereforethe cardinal and unconditioned career of every human being, ( 11 ) . In matrimony, the love that adult male longs to show is done so most basically in conjugallove, the common and complete self-giving of a adult male and a adult female. So sexualitycould ne’er be seen, on this apprehension as something strictly physical, norpurely psychological either. It is the whole homo who engages in the sexualact, so the act itself is per se physical and religious. This is how onecommunicates his or her love for another, by the common self-giving in theconjugal act.

However, love is non the lone rule intrinsic to conjugal acts.This fact is easy incontrovertible by observing that birth control contraceptionamounts to little more than unreal agencies of birth bar. But since itis of all time thought that this or that birth is necessitating to be prevented, it must bethe instance that there is a natural merchandise of connubial love. So, Donald Ascireasons, this is the other facet of Pope John Paul II ‘s divinity of theconjugal act. The organic structure by its really nature in gender is fecund – it is opento birthrate (The Conjugal Act as a Personal Act, 138 ) .Entirebrotherhood occurs with the giving of one ‘s organic structure and all of its conclusivenesss. In maleclimax, a conclusiveness is the releasing of seeds, in which is contained thepossibility of organizing a new human life ( if united with the gift of thewoman-the egg cell ) . There is a rule of entirety inherent in this concluding -the giving of one ‘s entire ego – his religious, physical and ( innatelycontained within the physical ) his fruitfulness.

But, if by some assorted means the connubial act is non completedaccording to its intrinsic order something like a contradiction takes topographic point, harmonizing to Christopher West who cites subdivision 32 ofFamiliaris Consortio.West argues that one can non perchance keep that he gives his full ego to theother if at the most of import ( i.e. , climactic ) minute of intercourse – thevery minute when the integrity between the two ought to be felt most of all – onewithdraws him or herself from the brotherhood. Fecund is what grownupsarebynature. Therefore, when 1 does such a thing as what West describes, he isengaging in a type of prevarication – a serious contradictory statement which says, Igive you all of myselfexceptmy birthrate. I receive all that you areexceptyour birthrate, (Good Newss about Sexual activity and Marriage, 108 ) . Therefore, as JohnPaul II grounds in this subdivision ofFCcited by West, the innatelanguage of the sum and common self-denying inherent in the connubial actbecomes overlaid with a contradictory thought when adult male moving as the ultimatearbiter of his ain being and gender decides in a minute tononwholly give of his ego ( since his whole ego includes, as Asci has shownabove, his fruitfulness every bit good ) .

The Essential Tension of Becoming What You Are

The treatment therefore far leads of course to what many subsequently came tosee as a profound and extremely of import instruction ofFamiliaris Consortio: Families, you are to go what you are! This transition so frequently quoted runsthus,

The household findsin the program of God the Creator and Redeemer non merely its individuality, what it is, but besides its mission, what it can and should make. The function that God calls thefamily to execute in history derives from what the household is: its rolerepresents the dynamic and experiential development of what it is. Each familyfinds within itself a biddings that can non be ignored and that specifies bothits self-respect and duty: household, go what you are ”( FamiliarisConsortio,17 ) .

Of class, such anexhortation is self-contradictory at first bloom. As David Michael Thomas remarksconcerning this apostolic rule, This Catholic Pope is a complex blend of pragmatism andidealism. The tenseness between the two is non relaxed for a minute ( Pope JohnPaul II ‘s Advice for Families, 7 ) . And Cardinal Trujillo asks, how cansomething go what it is? ( 7 ) More specifically, how does a household becomewhat it already is?

Donald Asci has some penetration to portion on this forepart. It isessentially a cart-and-horse quandary. It is non ever easy, in footings ofaction, to place which is the Equus caballus that is drawing the cart. The household hasa nature, and it is given this by God. However, it besides has a mission, which isalso given by God. These are two dimensions of the same world: viz. , the household ( Asci, 126 ) . The household has a inactive nature, but it besides has a dynamic mission, which is to be realized. But the mission is ne’er realized without an alreadyextant household, which has the necessary nature to recognize the mission. Nofamily ; no mission. However, portion of the mission is the holding, fostering, andpromulgating of good households. No fulfilment of mission ; no households. It is ascenario of interrelatedness and reciprocation. Each gives rise to the other.

Ecclesia Domestica

A phrase that foremost appeared in recent times in the Second VaticanCouncil papersLumens Gentiumwith mention to the nature of thefamily was that ofecclesia domestica( the domestic church ) . As DavidMichael Thomas notes, the Council got this phrase from the Hagiographas of theChurch male parents, and justly so since from the very beginnings of the Church ithas ever been comprised of those who wished to change over together with all [ their ] family, as the official Catechism of the Catholic Church states onthis affair ( 413 ) . The metaphor to depict this in the Catechism is that thefamilies of converts were every bit small islands of Christianity lived out in apagan universe. Leon Suprenant offers the scriptural metaphor of the organic structure of Christ ( which is the Church, harmonizing to St. Paul ) being comprised of the littlecells of households. Furthermore, for those Catholics life in fidelity to theteachings of the Church and holding kids as the natural consequence of conjugallove, they have as their primary duty the instruction and formation ofthese kids harmonizing to the Gospel of Christ ( The ‘Real Presence ‘ of theMarriage Bond, 253 ) . Surely, single parishes in brotherhood with the Holy See ofthe Catholic Church contribute to the instruction and formation of kids, butthis is chiefly to be done in the place – which is one of the qualities thatmake it the domestic church.

In continuity with all this, Pope John Paul II inFamiliarisConsortioemploys the phrase with some frequence and farther amplification. Itis a consequence of parents engendering in love and for love that they procreate newoffspring, for which they in bend take the duty of educating thesenew existences who stand in potency of great growing and development (FC,36 ) . It is their responsibility, but more to the point of love, it is their solemnprivilege to be able to take the sacred merchandise ( i.e. , their ain kid ) oftheir common love for each other and see its development through to completion.In this manner, the parents carry through their ain responsibility and award to be the firstevangelizers of their ain kids in learning them of the love of Christ.

Reasoning Ideas

As wasstated at the beginning of this brief essay, the apostolic exhortationFamiliarisConsortiois a papers rich in deepness and wide in the subjects to which itextends its instruction. However, we have merely tried here to give what seem to besome of the most of import and widely commented on parts of the text. Itcertainly seems to hold had a welcome response by many of the most well-knowncontemporary Catholic authors on matrimony and the household. It besides appears tohave filled a nothingness that existed to some extent in the aftermath of Catholic teachingon conjugal love and matrimony prior to the papacy of Pope John Paul II.One can reasonably anticipate that hereafter pontificates will go on to concentrate onthe divinity of the organic structure so competently developed by Pope John Paul II inFamiliarisConsortio.


Asci, Donald P.The Conjugal Act as aPersonal Act: A Study of the Catholic Concept of

the ConjugalAct in the Light of Christian Anthropology.SanFrancisco: Ignatius Press, 2002.

Catechism of the Catholic Church,2d erectile dysfunction. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997.

John Paul II, Pope.The Theology of theBody: Human Love in the Divine Plan. Boston,

Pauline Booksand Media, 1997.

Familiaris Consortio.Vatican Translation. Boston: St. Paul Books, 1982.

Markey, Barbara. Cohabitation: Responseover Reaction.The Priest,November, 2000,

19-24. Availableonline from Catholic Culture.

Thisencyclical in its entireness is contained within a work listed in ourbibliography.The Theology of the Body, which is a digest ofvarious instructions of Pope John Paul II on matrimony and connubial love, hasHumanaeVitaeas its first appendix. The reader may freely happen the encyclical hereand many topographic points elsewhere ( including the Vatican ‘s official web site ) .

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