Conference Highlights Link in Theologies of Body, Love

‘Familiaris Consortio’ Still Relevant After 3 Decades

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, NOV. 29, 2011 ( Modernity is characterized by countless tools and guides offering a way to «find oneself.» But the real path to encountering one’s identity is in encountering someone else, says the dean of the John Paul II pontifical institute for marriage and family.

Monsignor Livio Melina made this observation at a conference held last weekend in Rome, titled «The fecundity of Familiaris consortio: From John Paul II to Benedict XVI.»

The event examined the current relevance of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, «Familiaris consortio: On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.» The conference marked the upcoming 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the exhortation. 

In his talk, Monsignor Melina, academic dean of the Pontificio Istituto Giovanni Paolo II per Studi su Matrimonio e Famiglia, spoke about the «complementarity between a theology of the body and a theology of love.» 

«According to the words of John Paul II,» he said, «the body manifests a significant announcement. In the call to give of oneself, in the communion with another person, the sign of this difference opens the way to one’s own identity. We can find our identity only … in an encounter with another person, and in the encounter with God.»

«Familiaris consortio» was promulgated Nov. 22, 1981, following the 1980 synod on the family. The document identifies the role and meaning of the family in society, and addresses some of the unique challenges that the institution of the family faces in modern times. It also offers in-depth insights into the particular role of the Christian family within the Church. 

The objective of the conference was to revisit «Familiaris consortio» 30 years after its publication in order to promote a renewed awareness of its content. In particular, the conference examined the profound role of the family in the mission of the Church, and the diversity of graces that the family brings to the Church as a whole. Another objective was to provide a basis by which to analyze the pastoral work of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which has dedicated the decade of 2010-2020 to education. 

The conference was sponsored by the bishops’ office for family ministry, the Pontificio Istituto Giovanni Paolo II per Studi su Matrimonio e Famiglia, and the Forum delle Associazioni Familiari.

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