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‘Pope of the Family’

Quotations on marriage and the family by St. John Paul II

By Jason Godin

In his homily for the Mass of Canonization, Pope Francis recognized the enormous influence St. John Paul II had on families during his long pontificate.

“In his own service to the People of God, St. John Paul II was the pope of the family,” Pope Francis said. “He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family.”

Today, October 22, is the feast day of St. John Paul II, so it is fitting to remember the wisdom, vision and vitality he brought to the issue of marriage and family life. Toward this end, Fathers for Good has collected a small sampling of his writings for our readers.

The Dignity and Vocation of Marriage
“To bear witness to the inestimable value of indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time … I praise and encourage those numerous couples who, through encountering no small difficulty, preserve and develop the value of indissolubility: thus, in a humble and courageous manner, they perform the role committed to them of being a ‘sign’ – a small and precious sign, sometimes also subjected to temptation, but always renewed – of the unfailing fidelity with which God and Jesus Christ love each and every human being” (Familiaris Consortio, 1981, no. 20).

The Domestic Church
“Christian families exist to form a communion of persons in love. As such, the Church and the family are, each in its own way, living representations in human history of the eternal loving communion of the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. In fact, the family is called the Church in miniature, ‘the domestic church,’ a particular expression of the Church through the human experience of love and common life” (Homily, University of South Carolina, 1987, no. 4).

“Catholic parents must learn to form their family as a ‘domestic Church’, a church in the home as it were, where God is honored, his law is respected, prayer is a normal event, virtue is transmitted by word and example, and everyone shares the hopes, the problems, and sufferings of everyone else. All this is not to advocate a return to some outdated style of living: it is to return to the roots of human development and human happiness!” (Homily, Brooklyn, New York, 1995, no. 7).

The Original Cell of Social Life
“A truly sovereign and spiritually vigorous nation is always made up of strong families who are aware of their vocation and mission in history … To relegate it to a subordinate or secondary role, excluding it from its rightful position in society, would be to inflict grave harm on the authentic growth of society as a whole” (Gratissimam Sane, 1994, no. 17).

“In practical terms … there can be no life worthy of the human person without a culture – and a legal system – that honors and defends marriage and the family. The well-being of individuals and communities depends on the healthy state of the family” (Homily, Brooklyn, New York, 1995, no. 7).

Jason Godin is managing editor of Fathers for Good