Recent controversies regarding the Church’s marriage and family teachings are nothing new. Readers of a certain age no doubt recall the tumult surrounding these subjects in the years immediately after the Second Vatican Council. To guide the searching faithful, one of Pope St. John Paul II’s first major publications was his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, daily installments of which we are offering to our readers in reflection—and, we pray, renewal—of the spirit of good will in which it was published in 1981.
The family in the modern world, as much as and perhaps 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 destiny of marriage and the family.1
In a particular way the Church addresses the young, who are beginning their journey towards marriage and family life, for the purpose of presenting them with new horizons, helping them to discover the beauty and grandeur of the vocation to love and the service of life.
1 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 52.
— Familiaris Consortio 1