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The Pontifical Council for the Family is part of the Curia of the Roman Catholic Church. It was established by Pope John Paul II on May 9, 1981 with the Motu Proprio Familia a Deo Instituta and substituted for the Committee for the Family of Pope Paul VI, which had been 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]

The Council "works for a deeper understanding of the Church’s teaching"; "encourages studies in the spirituality of marriage and the family";[2] works "to ensure the accurate recognition of the human and social conditions of the family institution everywhere";[3] 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."[4] 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."[5]

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) observing declining demographic trends.

The president of the council was Alfonso Cardinal López Trujillo, until his death on 19 April 2008. Pope Bendict appointed the archbishop of Florence, Ennio Cardinal Antonelli as his replacement in June of that year. The council's secretary is Bishop Jean Laffitte since 22 October 2009. Bishop Laffitte replaced Monsignor Grzegorz Kaszak, who was named to head a Polish diocese. In addition to its advisory board of bishops, members of the Council include laypeople, especially married laypeople "from all over the world."[6] 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,[7] Christendom College President Timothy T. O'Donnell,[8] Carl A. Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; José Luis Mendoza, president of the Catholic University of St. Anthony [1], of Murcia, Spain, and father of 14,[9] and Jerry Coniker, co-founder of the Apostolate for Family Consecration and Catholic Familyland.[10]

The Council has published the quarterly Review Familia et Vita since 1994. It organizes the World Meetings of Families, convened in Rome in 1994, in Rio de Janeiro in 1997, Rome again in 2000, Manila, The Philippines, in 2003, Valencia, Spain, in 2006, and scheduled for Mexico City, Mexico, in 2009.

The Council is based in the Palazzo San Calisto, in Piazza San Calisto, Rome. On 6 May 2006 Carlo Cardinal Caffarra and Nicolas Cardinal Cheong Jin-Suk were named members of the Council.[11]

On 6 June, 2006, the Council published a document entitled "Family and Human Procreation"[12] noting that "Never before has the natural institution of marriage and the family been the victim of such violent attacks."


Presidents of the Pontifical Council for the Family



  • Bishop Francisco José Cox Huneeus (4 August 1981 – 22 January 1985)
  • Bishop Elio Sgreccia (5 November 1992 – 3 April 1996)
  • Bishop Francisco Gil Hellín (3 April 1996 – 28 March 2002)
  • Bishop Karl Josef Romer (13 April 2002 – 10 November 2007)
  • Fr Grzegorz Kaszak (10 November 2007 – 4 February 2009)
  • Bishop Jean Laffitte (22 October 2009 - )


  1. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 139.
  2. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 141 — § 1.
  3. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 141 — § 2.
  4. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 141 — § 3.
  5. ^ The Pontifical Council for the Family.
  6. ^ Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 140.
  7. ^ Sacred Heart Major Seminary Biography of Janet E. Smith.
  8. ^ "Pope Appoints O'Donnell as Consultor to Pontifical Councel, Christendom College News and Events, January 8, 2003.
  9. ^ "Church's Stance Doesn't Stifle Sexuality, Says University Chief,", Zenit News Agency, November 22, 2004.
  10. ^ Familyland Co-Founder Named Consultor for Pontifical Council, Zenit News Agency, September 19, 2004.
  11. ^ New Cardinals Get Curial Assignments, Zenit News Agency, May 7, 2006.
  12. ^ Document Deals With "Family and Procreation" Echoes Teachings of "Humanae Vitae", Zenit News Agency, June 6, 2006.

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