Pontifical Council for the Family

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The Pontifical Council for the Family was part of the Curia of the Roman Catholic Church from 1981 to 2016. It was established by Pope John Paul II on 9 May 1981 with his motu proprio Familia a Deo Instituta, replacing the Committee for the Family that Pope Paul VI had established in 1973. The Council "promotes the pastoral care of families, protects their rights and dignity in the Church and in civil society, so that they may ever be more able to fulfill their duties."[1]

Its functions are scheduled to shift to the new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life on 1 September 2016.[2]


The Council "works for a deeper understanding of the Church’s teaching"; "encourages studies in the spirituality of marriage and the family";[3] works "to ensure the accurate recognition of the human and social conditions of the family institution everywhere";[4] and "strives to ensure that the rights of the family be acknowledged and defended even in the social and political realm" and "supports and coordinates initiatives to protect human life from the first moment of conception and to encourage responsible procreation."[5] More particularly, the Council "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."[6]

Among the significant documents issued by the Council are The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (1995) providing guidelines for education within the family; Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life (1997) reaffirming the illicit nature of contraceptive acts; and Declaration on the Decrease of Fertility in the World (1998) about declining demographic trends.

The Council's President is Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. The Secretary is Bishop Jean Laffitte. The Under-Secretary is Father Andrea Palmieri.[7] The President Emeritus is Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. In addition to its advisory board of Bishops, members of the Council include laypeople, especially married laypeople "from all over the world."[8] The Council has a Presidential Committee with 15 cardinals, 12 archbishops and bishops, 19 married couples, 39 consultors, and a staff of 10. The Council's consultors include laypeople such as moral theologian Janet E. Smith,[9] Christendom College President Timothy T. O'Donnell,[10] Carl A. Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; José Luis Mendoza, president of the Catholic University of St Anthony of Murcia, Spain, and father of 14;[11] and Jerry Coniker, co-founder of the Apostolate for Family Consecration and Catholic Familyland.[12]

The Council publishes the quarterly review Familia et Vita since 1994. It organizes the World Meetings of Families, convened in Rome, Italy in 1994, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1997, Rome again in 2000, Manila, Philippines in 2003, Valencia, Spain, in 2006, Mexico City, Mexico in 2009, Milan, Italy in 2012, and Philadelphia, United States in 2015. The next meeting will occur in 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

The Council is based in Palazzo San Callisto, Piazza San Callisto, Rome.

On 6 June 2006, the Council published a document entitled "Family and Human Procreation"[13] noting that "Never before has the natural institution of marriage and the family been the victim of such violent attacks."



  1. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 139.
  2. ^ Wooden, Cindy (17 August 2016). "Pope names Dallas bishop head of new office for laity, family, life". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 141 — § 1.
  4. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 141 — § 2.
  5. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 141 — § 3.
  6. ^ The Pontifical Council for the Family.
  7. ^ http://www.microsofttranslator.com/BV.aspx?ref=IE8Activity&a=http%3A%2F%2Fpress.catholica.va%2Fnews_services%2Fbulletin%2Fnews%2F29597.php%3Findex%3D29597%26lang%3Den
  8. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 140.
  9. ^ Sacred Heart Major Seminary Biography of Janet E. Smith.
  10. ^ "Pope Appoints O'Donnell as Consultor to Pontifical Councel, Christendom College News and Events, January 8, 2003.
  11. ^ "Church's Stance Doesn't Stifle Sexuality, Says University Chief,", Zenit News Agency, November 22, 2004.
  12. ^ Familyland Co-Founder Named Consultor for Pontifical Council, Zenit News Agency, September 19, 2004.
  13. ^ Document Deals With "Family and Procreation" Echoes Teachings of "Humanae Vitae", Zenit News Agency, June 6, 2006.

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