Quite a bit has changed since then, in some ways. In others, not so much.
I started reading the 34,000-or-so-word document this evening. Skimming, actually. I don't expect to finish it any time soon. It's easier reading than some documents I've found on the Holy See's website - which isn't the same as being easy reading. That's not a criticism. They tend to be written with a great deal of information in each paragraph: and not much attention paid to online conventions like short paragraphs and bulletized lists.
- "The family in the modern world, as much as and perhaps more than any other institution, has been beset by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture..."
- "...Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family..."
- "...Others have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family life..."
- "...Finally, there are others who are hindered by various situations of injustice in the realization of their fundamental rights...."
("Familiaris Consortio" (November 22, 1981))
"...The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled..."Happy Days.'
Agreeing with the Catholic Church about the importance of family and the Gospel is not the same as wanting to live in some mythologized past.
Whatever else I expect to find in Blessed John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, I do not expect to see that we're supposed to run families the way many Americans did during my childhood, where:
- Goes to work
- Ignores the kids
- Takes his wife for granted
- Stays home in the suburbs
- Being 'just a housewife'
- Commercials with improbably-cheerful women
- Doing housework in high heels
Not all families were like that, of course.
Still, I think some aspects of child-rearing practices and family organization of post-World-War-II America were appalling. And that's another topic.
The Catholic Church operates under the authority that my Lord gave Peter (Matthew 16:18-19), guided by the Bible, Magisterium, and Tradition. We have a duty to be the body of Christ in the world. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 787-795)
That does not leave room for taking polls to see which of the Decalogue are trending this month, and which should be changed to keep up with the latest intellectual fad.
What might be startling, if more folks knew it, is how much the Church cares about human dignity - the importance of treating people as if they were persons, and worth something by themselves.
Another excerpt, the last in this post:
"...Not infrequently ideas and solutions which are very appealing but which obscure in varying degrees the truth and the dignity of the human person, are offered to the men and women of today, in their sincere and deep search for a response to the important daily problems that affect their married and family life. These views are often supported by the powerful and pervasive organization of the means of social communication, which subtly endanger freedom and the capacity for objective judgment...."Whatever useful details I find in that apostolic exhortation's 34,000 words, I'm about as sure as I can be that it'll all boil down to two simple rules: Love God; Love my neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40)
("Familiaris Consortio") [emphasis mine]
- "Faith, Rules, and Knowing Why"
(May 24, 2011)
- "St. Isidore, the Domestic Church, and the Good Shepherd"
(May 15, 2011) (guest post)
- "Home Schooling and This Catholic Family"
(February 26, 2011)
- "Joseph's Bones, a Promise, and Passing the Word"
(December 20, 2010)
- "Mirrors, Television, and MP3 Players"
(November 6, 2010)
- "Familiaris Consortio - John Paul II - Apostolic Exhortation"
Pope John Paul II (November 22, 1981)
- Pontifical Council for the Family
Pontifical Councils, Roman Curia, the Holy See
- Catechism of the Catholic Church