|A FRESH, SPIRITUAL WAY OF THINKING|
|Bishop John J. Myers
To Parents, Pastors, and Other Adults in the Church and Community
Given the situation we face today in the Church and in the world, it is not enough for us to make the young alone the center of attention in the area of sex education. As parents, pastors, educators, and members of the wider community, we all have an obligation to be fully and properly informed. We cannot simply assume that young people learn the truth. Indeed, if we are to communicate it to them, we must know and understand the truth ourselves. We must live and defend it.
This second pastoral letter, therefore, is addressed primarily to parents. Their responsibility to their family necessitates an active role in the education and in the spiritual formation of their children, especially when some of these tasks are shared with others. The conditions of modern culture present difficult challenges that, at times, can seem overwhelming. All who raise children have a right to expect support from the Church and from members of the wider community. We must ensure by our own efforts that the young will learn and appreciate those unalterable and timeless values by which the human person is enriched and fulfilled.
The circumstances and attitudes in our time that have damaged family life and demeaned human sexuality must be responsibly and comprehensively addressed. Simply collapsing into the mire of the "value-free" approach to education and human development will only lead to a deeper and more painful solitude. Too many members of the human family find themselves in situations that cause them to doubt their own worth and dignity. Too many young people, born to an era characterized by a radical preoccupation with self, ask themselves the question, "Am I wanted?" In light of the widespread use of contraception, the practice of abortion, and now the call for legalizing such things as fetal experimentation and physician-assisted suicide, it is not surprising that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has termed our culture "a culture of death."
Into the darkness of this anxiety, the Church speaks a message of hope. The God who reaches out to us through His Son has not abandoned us. We do not face the burdens and challenges of daily life alone. Through the Church, Jesus walks with all men, women, and children. He stands with two-parent families, with single-parent families, with all the different dimensions of family life encountered today. While the unalterable model of family life is the two-parent family, the Church walks with those for whom this model, for whatever reason, is not a reality. Against the horizon of family life, the Church continues to preach Christ's consistent and timeless message that sin and death have already been conquered, that the darkness has been overcome.
To combat the negative influence of that part of modern culture that deceives and demeans them, young people must see themselves in the positive light of the Gospel. Our youth are not products of conception determined and enslaved by biology, genetics, race, class, sex or personal history. They are unique and irreplaceable individuals filled with the potential and capability for living a life of human flourishing and eternal salvation. They will only see themselves this way if we instill within them the vision of hope that is the spiritual way of thinking made possible by life in Christ. We owe the young more than just any kind of tomorrow. We owe them the tomorrow they deserve: the full and abundant life that comes to us in Christ Jesus.
A. Communion of Husband and Wife
The life that Christ offers has as its foundation certain fundamental truths about the human person already revealed in the Old Testament. The Book of Genesis establishes these truths in the context of man's origin and destiny. As the new <Catechism of the Catholic Church> reminds us, man's origin is his destiny様iving in intimate loving communion with God: Of all the visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his creator." He is the "only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake," and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity. (Catechism #356)
One way that this love out of which and for which the human person is created becomes a reality is through the union of a man and woman when, blessed by the Creator, they become "one flesh." The covenant in which a man and a woman give themselves to each other and accept each other communicates and makes present the truth of God's own nature: God who created man out of love also calls him to love葉he fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation. (Catechism #1604)
The loving communion of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is expressed in a particular way through the communion established in the conjugal covenant of a marriage that cooperates with God in calling new human beings into existence.
The movement of a man and a woman from their father and mother toward one another establishes the truth of God's nature and makes tangible the truth of human existence: it is not good to be alone. The human person, created to live in truth and love, fulfills this need through openness to God and to others. Through the mutual giving and receiving of self in the communion of persons that occurs in marriage, a man and a woman are opened to that broader communion that is the human family: The family is the <original cell of social life>. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. (Catechism #2207)
The plan of marriage that was, as Jesus reminds us, "from the beginning," is the means by which God intends to establish the "human family" as a relationship of love and truth.
The family, therefore, is rightly called the most basic and fundamental element of society. As the primordial community, it should be the privileged place in which persons learn and experience the good of being persons-in- communion. The solidity of any society can always be measured by the strength of the communion between spouses that is the foundation of the community of the family.
B. Communion of Parent and Child
The degree to which persons are capable of giving themselves to the broader community for the sake of the common good is established, in part, by the success of the family in the moral formation of children. Since the free and conscious decision to give oneself to another finds its complete fulfillment in the procreation of new persons, the bodily union of spouses is ordered toward the community of the family, whether or not procreation is intended or even possible. The marital covenant not only allows a man and a woman to create a genuine and new community by their mutual self-giving, the task and the challenge of fatherhood and motherhood also allows parents to fashion children according to the truth and love that is the foundation of the personal communion of the spouses. Children are not merely products of biological fecundity, nor are they mere objects of their parent's wants and wishes. Willed by God from the very beginning, they exist from the moment of conception as new human beings, as persons of intrinsic worth who bear the divine image and likeness. The relationship between parents must enable the new human beings to understand themselves and others in terms of this likeness with God.
Thus, the communion of spouses must be the lived expression of their openness to new life, and their loving, permanent commitment to one another "until death." Within this context, the creation of new human life makes incarnate the good for which a man and a woman cling to one another. The words of consent to love and honor, being true in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, express that which is essential to the life of the spouses and to the life of the future family. In the presence of the mystery of the new human life, spouses rediscover one another and are re-awakened to the supreme Mystery of loving communion that is the source of all love and life.
A. Challenges to Family Unity
The good of the community of the family enfleshed in new human life must be vigorously protected. Certain popular attitudes about the marriage covenant and the purposes of conjugal union are entirely opposed to the good of marriage and family life as expressed in the words of consent. A firm decision never to have children, the use of contraceptives, an indifference to or acceptance of the horror of abortion, all these things act against the communion between persons that makes the community of the family possible. Anything that limits or prevents a married person from giving completely and freely in a loving communion open to new human life works against the full expression of one's humanity. As the Holy Father has said, "To love means to give and to receive something which can be neither bought nor sold, but only given freely and mutually."
The community of the family is founded on that selflessness by which a man and a woman honestly, freely, and fully give themselves to one another. It is precisely through this sincere gift of self that the human person finds himself. The good of family life is nurtured and preserved when family members sacrifice self-interest for the good of the family: The relationships within the family bring an affinity of feelings, affections and interests, arising above all from the members' respect for one another. The family is a <privileged community> called to achieve a "sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children's upbringing" (Catechism #2206)
The relationships within the family, in particular the relationship between the spouses, must insure that no child be made to feel like an "orphan of living parents."
This responsibility to the family is the true good and is not terminated by separation or by divorce, or even by circumstances in which new human life may be described as "not wanted," "accidental," or "unplanned." The needs and desires of parents should not come before the lives and needs of children. The demands and responsibilities of motherhood and fatherhood are not only financial, but extend to all that a child needs to discover himself as a person created in the image and likeness of God. The longing for a new spouse and the desire to express oneself sexually must not be placed over the good of the children. When the communion between the spouses is broken down, when the sole care of the children falls on a mother or a father alone, the children should not be made to feel as if their needs are secondary. Motherhood and fatherhood must be for children a sign and proof of unconditional love that enables them to discover and experience the height and depth and breadth of love.
B. Strength in Jesus
Because of the inner strength the Spirit pours into the heart of the believer, the challenges and burdens that confront mothers and fathers are not insurmountable. A close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, enriched through substantial daily prayer and nurtured through the sacraments, is fundamental to sustaining the indissoluble character of marriage that is so often put to the test through social pressures that lead from freedom to conformity. Building good habits, like family prayer, contributes to all areas of family life. Forming virtues from the earliest years will be of special benefit to children as they move into their teenage years.
The hearts of spouses should be immersed in the revelation of those saving mysteries to which the covenant union will give witness. Knowledge and acceptance of those truths that God has revealed "from the beginning," and supremely in the person of Christ Himself, will preserve the good of the family and continually renew the spouses in love: By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, [Christ] himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life. (Catechism #1615)
C. Mutual Gift of Self
The Biblical revelation about the foundation and pattern of loving that should form the marital covenant centers upon what the Second Vatican Council describes as "a sincere gift of self." This truth that gives meaning and identity to the human person is the very pattern of personal loving communion revealed by Christ, "who came to serve and not be served," who "lays down his life for his bride the Church," who desired to celebrate the paschal feast in order to give His body and blood for the life of the world. The attitude of spouses must be that of Christ. The willingness of spouses to serve each other's needs through mutual self-giving guarantees they will be sustained. One does not live to serve the other each must simply live for the other.
When spousal communion is expressed through this mutual gift of self, the community of the family will be characterized by the willingness of its members to serve one another in love. The good of the family depends upon the sincere gift of self that marked Christ's own way of loving. "Without this, marriage would be empty," and the transmission of life might seem a burden, and obstacle, or a cause of frustration. The transmission of human life transcends the physical. Through the union of their bodies, spouses should encounter the Eternal God who knows and consecrates all human life容ven before conception. Every child is a priceless gift that should be welcomed for its own sake, an embodiment of the intimate and unbreakable bond by which a man and a woman are united until death.
D. Support in the Church
The good of motherhood and fatherhood is affirmed and upheld by the Church. As a special type of community, the Church is herself patterned after the primordial union of husband and wife. Like a bridegroom, Christ gives Himself freely and completely to His bride, the Church. Like Mary, the perfect disciple, the Church seeks to do the will of God in all things. The community of the family is not only the basic element of society, it is also the basic element of the Church. The family should be the first place where persons learn the true meaning of life, the beauty of their existence, the love of the God who calls them into being.
This will be possible to the extent that mothers and fathers place Christ at the center of their personal loving communion. If their longing to know and experience intimate loving communion has been encountered in the redemption of Christ, they will naturally desire to share with and pass on to their children the gift of God's love. They will not be afraid to raise their children in the truth, not withstanding whatever mistakes and sins they may have committed. Through the peace and reconciliation of Jesus, motherhood and fatherhood facilitate for children an encounter with the God of gentleness and compassion who is slow to anger and rich in mercy. Permeated with the love of God, parents will delight in forming their children according to the truths of Christ as taught by His Church. Unencumbered by past failures, they will make whatever sacrifices are necessary in the formation of their children in order to draw them close to the God who has raised us all from the slavery of sin and fashioned us by His grace into His sons and daughters.
A. Parents as Primary Educators
An active commitment to the physical and spiritual welfare of children will preserve the young from the multitude of lies that lead to a life of slavery to sin. Therefore, parents must accept their responsibility as primary educators of their children: The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. "<The role of parents in education> is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute." The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. (Catechism #2221)
It is not enough simply to "be friends" with one's children, as if friendship and authority are contrary. The authority inherent to motherhood and fatherhood is a requirement and demand of love and a necessity for the good of the family. While not "lording it over their children," parents owe it to their children to provide firm direction, to share what they know, and, when needed, to seek the assistance of resources that uphold the spiritual way of thinking that sets us free. Loving does not consist of leaving the young to figure out life for themselves. True love and genuine respect seeks the good of the other person because it recognizes in the other the gift that each human life is. Motherhood and fatherhood assume this each time new human life is allowed to be born.
B. Two Principles of Love
The demands of family love should be firmly grounded on two simple but essential principles. The first concerns the dynamic of presence. Be present to your children; spend time with them. No relationship can be sustained through frequent or permanent absence. Jesus affirmed this truth of human personal communion when, before His death, He promised His apostles that He would be with them always. Through the Eucharist, He has remained really, truly, and substantially present to all people and all ages.
How much more, then, do children have the right to expect their parents to be personally present to them. Separation, divorce, or re-marriage should not be used as excuses to give parental responsibility to the Church, to the state, or to others. While circumstances may, at times, require the assistance of members of the extended family, of agencies, or of institutions in the rearing, education, growth, and development of the child葉his should be the exception and not the rule. Children should never be made to feel that their parents are not interested in the struggles, the questions, the difficulties that are part of their growing up.
The second principle concerns the manner in which parents communicate with their children. The good of any relationship requires honest communication. Since every person has a right to the truth, parents must tell their children the truth容ven when the truth is not popular. Non-marital sexual conduct of any kind is destructive of personal integrity. Abortion is murder. Contraception violates the meaning and significance of marital intercourse. Adultery is always dishonest. Masturbation is a serious sin. Condoms do not always prevent infection from sexually transmitted diseases. Genital sexual expression between members of the same sex is not life giving and, therefore, can never attain on of the essential purposes for which God created us as sexual beings. Because sin takes many forms, the truths of human sexuality must be honestly spoken of and clearly explained to young people. The signs of the time demand that proven type of charity which never shies away from the truth but which helps all persons to seek and to find it.
A. Teaching the Spirituality of Sexual Awakening
To a large extent, the welfare of the human family can be discerned in the attitudes and behavior of the young. The successes and failures of those who have primary care for the good of the community are assumed by the young in a unique way. While every generation has questioned the meaning of human existence, the intensity with which the present generation of young people raises this question should alarm us. But merely recognizing the situation is not enough. We must also acknowledge that the tragedies giving poignant voice to the question of human existence are problems that have a cause. The actions and attitudes of the young reflect the actions and attitudes of those who came before.
From this perspective it rightly can be stated that the entire human family is indicted by the problems associated with young people. Suicide, drugs, gang violence, a lack of respect and appreciation for human life, teen-age pregnancy葉hese are not so much the legacy of the young as they are the epitaph of the old. These social realities are not simply the fault of young people. While they are responsible for the choices they make and the consequences of their actions, young people will only understand the moral significance of their choices and actions to the extent that their lives have been opened to the truth. What has been sown by one generation is reaped by another. The welfare of the young demands a love from parents and adult members of the community that has the strength to stand against the false doctrines of this age, to sow the seeds of truth that will yield a harvest of justice and peace for the entire human family.
The most fundamental requirement for helping the young is teaching them the spiritual nature of their sexual awakening. The ability to use the body sexually is not simply a physical phenomenon that can be directed toward any goal or be expressive of any consensual or externally imposed meaning. Teaching human sexuality as primarily a process of biology distorts that which is most uniquely and characteristically human: the ability to express love.
Affirming the spiritual truths of human sexuality charges all believers to stand against the cycle of destructive sexuality. It is not enough to exhort our young to live chastely from fear of disease or pregnancy. Young people must be formed in a life of virtue from which chastity emerges as a response to the goodness, truth, and beauty of the entire human person傭ody, soul, and spirit. We are body persons. Acting against the natural integrity of the human body diminishes the whole person. The abuse of alcohol, the use of drugs, or a habit of sexual promiscuity prevents one from experiencing the fullness of human life and can lead one to a fear and loathing of self and of others.
B. Teaching Responsibility by Example
Calling young people to a responsible way of expressing themselves physically, emotionally, and sexually requires that parents and adult members of the community build bonds of trust. The young must know and experience from the community a commitment to their physical and spiritual welfare. Such a commitment will encourage, foster, and support the truths we strive to teach them. Responsibility toward the young is a good for the entire human family. Parents should not be expected to act alone, to live out their responsibility without the support of the broader community. What a tragedy that many parents and many members of the community attempt to use technology as a replacement for their responsibility. How many parents, educators, social workers, and pastors want to provide condoms or birth control pills and devices, rather than accept the demand of love and teach the truth? By their actions they communicate to the young a lack of interest and a lack of respect. Young people can live the truth; many are never given the chance.
C. Informing Public Policy
Perhaps the most courageous way in which we act on behalf of the young and for the good of the human family is by informing public policy. By our baptism into Christ's death and resurrection, we have an obligation to share His Good News with all the world. Religion is not to be lived out in private. "No one lights a lamp and places it under a bushel basket." We have a right, indeed an obligation, to express publicly the truths we profess: It is part of the Church's mission "to pass moral judgement even in mater related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it. The means, the only means, she may use are those which are in accord with the Gospel and the welfare of all men according to the diversity of times and circumstances." (Catechism #2246)
While law does not make morality, it does serve to teach and form members of a community. We must insure that our laws foster and support a healthy public morality. We must not be afraid to call the world to repentance, to a radical change of heart that opens the human person to the life prepared for him from the foundation of the world.
Our responsibility to share the freeing truth of the Gospel includes supplying the resources for establishing community programs that respect the truth of human sexuality and support true human flourishing. To do this it will be necessary that we address attitudes and programs that are not directed toward the good of family life. And we must resist the forces that would drive from the public square religious voices and those whose moral understanding is religiously informed: That ominous doctrine which attempts to build a society with no regard whatever for religion, and which attacks and destroys the religious liberty of its citizens, is rightly to be rejected.
Our responsibility to the wider community necessitates an active role in bringing renewal and reform to every dimension of life耀ocial, educational, political葉hat demeans or devalues human sexuality.
The cultural situation we face today threatens the good of family life at its very foundations. When the federal government extends special protection to clinics that do violence to women and children, when it goes so far as to impose special burdens on the freedom of speech of those who protest such violence, the entire nation should cringe with horror and disgust. But, as a community of believers, we should not fall back meekly and complacently. Now, more than ever before, our nation needs for us a sign of hope in our unyielding commitment to that spiritual way of thinking that exposes "the fruitless works of darkness" and draws all persons into the surpassing greatness of Christ.
The urgency and importance of the challenge we face can make it appear overwhelming. But, as with other crucial matters in life, it is important that we think things through calmly, carefully analyzing each situation. Only then can we begin to act day by day, one step at a time. But act we must, for the well being of the young is at stake. The future of the society in which they will live hangs in the balance. To this end, I offer the following concrete suggestions.
A. For Parents
1. Continue to grow in your own relationship with Jesus Christ and in communion with His Church. Lead your children in developing their spiritual lives by your own example of faith, prayer, fidelity to your religious responsibilities, and upright living.
2. Trust the Lord and your own good judgement in rearing your children. Let your children see you praying. Pray with your children and share your faith with them. Talk to your children.
Take the time to know what is going on with them. Be involved in school programs and in other programs in which they are involved.
Exercise your rights to examine materials and to be fully informed.
Do not be afraid to withhold your consent for your children to participate in programs you consider harmful or ill-advised.
3. Reject programs that promote attitudes towards human sexuality and ways of life that are opposed to chastity. Safeguard your children from programs that hand out birth control pills, condoms, and other contraception devices.
4. Help unmask a philosophy of human sexuality that pretends to be value free but, to the contrary, proposes false values and condones activities that undermine human dignity.
5. Band together to help one another meet your responsibilities and to help set a new direction in our communities. Parish groups might be formed. Efforts with other churches can be helpful. In communities having only public school systems, community-wide groups may be necessary.
6. Individually and with other groups that share common interests, exercise your rights to speak up and influence policies and programs proposed by school boards, school administrators, individual teachers, and other public services.
7. Continue to grow in the knowledge of your faith. Learn the beauty of the Church's message about human sexuality. Have in your home materials, like the new <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, that will help you to instruct your children about the rich heritage of the Catholic faith.
B. For Priests
1. Strive to lead and serve people by your own example as a disciple of Christ and true son of the Church. An example of generous self-giving through service will help make apparent that celibacy is an effective way of loving.
2. Continue to teach clearly the Catholic understanding of human sexuality in the opportunities afforded you, including, when appropriate, the Sunday homily. In addition to sharing the profound Catholic vision of human sexuality, people should be called to repent for their sins, to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to continue their conversion to Jesus Christ.
3. Encourage parents to meet their responsibilities and be ready to assist them personally and through well-designed programs.
4. Ensure that any program in the school or religious education program meets standards set by the Diocese. This will involve significant parental participation.
5. Be willing to cooperate in appropriate area-wide programs, especially with other Catholic institutions. Undertake ecumenical cooperation when appropriate and possible.
6. Find ways to facilitate the formation of mutual help groups for parents, and encourage groups of parents to be involved in the formation of local public policy.
C. For Diocesan Officials
1. The Vicar General will chair a task force to formulate more precise diocesan policies and programs for chastity education and to propose them for consideration. He will include the Office of Catholic Education, the Office of Family Life, the Diocesan Commission on Education, the Natural Family Planning Office, and any other diocesan offices or programs in the process. The focus should be on affirming and supporting parents in their responsibilities and in helping priests, teachers and other Church members to assist them.
As a community of believers, we face many of the same struggles and difficulties as that ancient community in Ephesus. The unique signs of our own time, nonetheless, bring us face to face with the timeless truths of Jesus. His words are for every age, because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The difficulties we face today, young or old, rich or poor, ill or healthy, must be met with the attitude of Christ, who never thought equality with God something to be grasped at. Most of the problems and tragedies of our day result from an attitude that claims equality with God. The world and all material reality is perceived by many as a possession belonging to the human family. Without acknowledging the Creator, the world is treated as something that, through our ingenuity and artifice, we can master and dominate rather than as a gift with which we are entrusted. Nowhere is this attitude and manner of behavior more destructive than in terms of human sexuality. How sad it is that human fertility is now regarded as a burden and a curse from which women must be liberated. The human inclination to evil has ushered in new atrocities that seek to destroy human relationships.
But love is stronger than this. To rekindle the hope that is ours as believing parents, pastors, educators, social workers, doctors, politicians, we have only to look to Our Lady. If we will take a courageous stand beside our young, protecting them from all that will bring them pain and harm, we have only to seek the comfort and support of the Virgin of Nazareth, whose own fecundity resulted from the power of God's life-giving Spirit. To the Woman who crushes the head of the serpent, whose children will always be at enmity with the prince of this world, we should lift up our hearts in prayer. And when we feel that the world rejects us, we must remember that it first rejected her Son.
May the Mother of God, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the New Eve, intercede for us, that our hearts may be enlightened to the truth of our existence and the love for which we have been created.
Given at my Chancery, the 9th day of January, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, in the year of Our Lord 1995.
Most Reverend John J. Myers, S.T.L., J.C.D. Bishop of Peoria
1. Pope John Paul II, "A Celebration of Life: Homily at Cherry Creek State Park," (August 15, 1993), in <Origins>, (August 26, 1993), Vol. 23:No. 11.
2. Vatican Council II, <Gaudium et spes>, "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," 1.
3. <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1994), P.91 #356.
4. Cf. Genesis 3:24. There is a tendency on the part of some in the Church to regard this passage as a proscription against celibacy. Such a position is in contrast with the Church's teaching on the significance and beauty of "virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." For a concise treatment of the relationship of marriage and celibacy see The Catechism of the Catholic Church, pp. 404-05, #1618-1620.
5. <Gaudium et spes>, 48.
6. <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, Op. cit. p.401, # 1604.
7. Pope John Paul II, "Letter to Families," (February 2, 1994), translation, Origins, (March 3, 1994) Vol. 23:No. 37, pp. 642-43 #9.
8. Cf. Genesis 2:18.
9. <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, Op. cit. p. 533, #2207.
10. Cf. Matthew 19:3-10.
11. See "Letter to Families," Op. cit.
12. <The Rite of Marriage> (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1970), p. 30.
13. Cf. Genesis 2:24.
14. <The Rite of Marriage>, Op. cit.
15. "Letter to Families," Op. cit., pp. 643-44, #10. In Article 10, the Holy Father uses "the common good of marriage and family life" to express that which is the foundation of family life. The good common to marriage is the communion of love that should exist between the spouses. The words of consent from the Rite of Marriage give verbal, public witness to that which binds the man and woman together. The whole life of the family depends upon the extent to which this "good" is preserved, safeguarded and nourished.
16. "Letter to Families," Op. cit., pp. 644-45 #11.
17. <Gaudium et spes> 24.
18. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Op. cit., p. 532, #2206.
19. "Letter to Families," Op. cit., p. 49, #14.
20. Cf. Romans 8:39.
21. <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, Op. cit., p. 403, # 1615.
22. <Gaudium et spes> 24.
23. Cf. Matthew 21:28.
24. Cf. Ephesians 5:26.
25. "Letter to Families," Op. cit., pp. 644-45 #11.
27. <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, Op. cit. p. 536, #2221.
28. Cf. Ephesians 6:4.
29. Cf. Matthew 28:20.
30. Cf. Matthew 20:18-20.
31. Cf. Matthew 5:15.
32. <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, Op. cit., p. 542, #2246.
33. <Lumen gentium> 36.
34. Cf. Ephesians 5:11.
35. Cf. Philippians 2:7.
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