Pontifical Council for Family Marks 20th Anniversary

Its Creation Reflected a Key Concern of John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The May 13, 1981, attempt on John Paul II´s life prevented him that day from announcing one of the novelties of his pontificate: the creation of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The crisis of the family was already one of the Pope´s greatest concerns, and early in his pontificate he realized the need for such a council.

The council, which marks its 20th anniversary this month, is responsible for promoting the educational and apostolic mission of families and their pastoral care through the application of the magisterium´s teachings. The council also fosters and coordinates initiatives in defense of human life at all stages, beginning with conception.

By statute, it is also concerned with sexual education, demography, contraception and abortion; sterilization, genetic engineering and prenatal diagnosis; homosexuality; and ethical and pastoral problems related to AIDS and other bioethical problems.

In 1990, John Paul II appointed Colombian Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo president of the council. The former president of the Latin American bishops´ council is known for his organizational skills.

The council´s secretary and undersecretary, Bishop Francisco Gil Hellín and Monsignor Francesco Di Felice, respectively, had a big role in the Pope´s World Meetings with Families.

The last such meeting, on Oct. 15, attracted 200,000 people to Rome. A 1997 encounter in Brazil drew 1 million. The next meeting is set for 2003 in Manila, Philippines.

During the recent extraordinary consistory, Cardinal López Trujillo revealed that his council is preparing a lexicon of terms relating to the family and human sexuality.

The council´s documents include «Family, Marriage and De Facto Unions» (2000); «Family and Human Rights» (1999); «Vademecum for Confessors on Some Topics of Conjugal Morality» (1997); «Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage» (1996); «Human Sexuality: Truth and Meaning» (1995); and «Charter of Family Rights» (1983).

These documents may be consulted at the Web site of the Pontifical Council for the Family

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