Section one of the document expressly opens up the contents and applications of the document to a broad audience. It is written for those living in fidelity to the Church's extant teachings and practices in the area of matrimony, Marriage is the intimate union and equal partnership of a man and a woman. It comes to us from the hand of God, who created male and female in his image, so that they might become one body and might be fertile and multiply. Though man and woman are equal as God’s children, they are created with important differences that allow them to give themselves and to receive the other as a gift. Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan of creation. In addition, the Catholic Church teaches that the valid marriage between two baptized Christians is also a sacrament, a saving reality and a symbol of Christ’s love for his church. In every marriage the spouses make a contract with each other. In a sacramental marriage the couple also enters into a covenant in which their love is sealed and strengthened by God’s love. Those who have become bewildered by the contemporary challenges encroaching upon the family, and even to those who live in unjust unawareness of the freedom and human rights guaranteed to them to have all the fullness that marriage might offer. In other words, the intended audience of the document is an intrinsically ecumenical one. It is not merely addressing Catholics in good standing with the Church, but the holy father reaches his hand out to assist everyone struggling with the sundry difficulties in contemporary married life. Pope John Paul II notes in section six of the exhortation that the situation of marriage and the family in contemporary life is an ironic one in the sense that there are both commendable advances being made in Western culture and enormous setbacks. It is not so simple a situation as to claim that Western culture is doing nothing other than attacking and hindering the family and married life. Some of the good understandings reached by the contemporary Western world are the following: an appreciation of human freedom for both sexes, a promotion of education and love for children, and a promotion of the dignity of women and responsible procreation. However, some of the setbacks against the family should also be noted. They include the following: the respective freedom of the spouses has been carried to an extreme sense of autonomy, the misconstruction of authority and the handing on of values with respect to the relation of parents to their children, and the ongoing scourges of abortion, growing divorce rates, sterilization, and an overall contraceptive mentality. It is for these reasons and many others besides that the Synod of Bishops met and wished Pope John Paul II to be the primary spokesperson for their conclusions reached. Everything is not well for the contemporary family, and Pope John Paul II reasons that the family is not merely a part of an overall society (rather, it is the very foundation of all society, as we shall explore later),any attacks on its welfare must not go unanswered. Social injustices toward the family must be dealt with directly, and this is a primary reason for the appearance of Familiaris Consortio.
BRIGHT SPOTS AND SHADOWS FOR THE FAMILY TODAY
Family life is not something up in the clouds; it touches every person in his or her daily experience. The Church wants to understand the concrete situations in which people find themselves; also, the Church wants to help deepen one's understanding of what it means to be truly human. Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. In theological language, Jesus is a divine person, Jesus being the only one who has both a human nature and a divine nature. To be truly and fully human is to live the way Jesus lived. Jesus' humanity is to be used as the model for the way we live out our own...
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