PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY
The Pontifical Council for the Family, instituted by John Paul II with the Motu Proprio Familia a Deo Instituta in 1981, substituted the Committee for the Family created by Paul VI in 1973.
The Council is responsible for the promotion of the pastoral ministry and apostolate to the family, through the application of the teachings and guidelines of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, to help Christian families fulfill their educational and apostolic mission.
It also promotes and coordinates pastoral efforts related to the issue of responsible procreation, and encourages, sustains and coordinates initiatives in defense of human life in all stages of its existence, from conception to natural death.
Also in relation to the pastoral care of the family and the defense of life, the following themes fall within the Council's sphere of competence: theology and catechesis of the family; conjugal and family spirituality; the rights of the family and the child; formation of the laity for the pastoral care of the family; marriage preparation courses.
Other questions dealt with by the Council include: sex education, demographics, contraception and abortion; sterilization, ethical and pastoral problems related to AIDS and other problems of bioethics; legislation regarding marriage, the family, family policies and the protection of human life.
Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, Msgr. Jean Laffitte and Msgr. Carlos Simón Vázquez are respectively President, Secretary and Under-Secretary of this Council. It has a Presidential Committee composed of 15 cardinals and 12 archbishops and bishops, plus 19 married couples from all over the world who are the members, 39 consultors, and a staff of 10 officials.
Since 1994, at the request of various Bishops’ Conferences, the Council has been giving up-dating courses for bishops and pastoral workers on the family, life and related ethical questions.
Starting from the 1994 Year of the Family, the Dicastery is responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families: Rome 1994; Rio de Janeiro 1997; Rome 2000, in the framework of the Jubilee of Families; Manila 2003. The Fifth World Meeting will take place in Valencia, Spain in 2006.
In 1996, the Pontifical Council for the Family began publication of a quarterly review, Familia et Vita, containing articles by experts and pastors (in the original languages with summaries in five languages) on subjects within the Council’s areas of competence. The Dicastery has many other publications in various languages regarding the family, human life and related issues.