The Pontifical Council for the Family instituted by blessed John Paul II with the Motu Proprio “Familia a Deo instituta
” on May 13th, 1981 the day of the assassination attempt in St Peter's Square replaced the Committee for the Family created by Paul VI in 1973.
The Pontifical Council for the Family is responsible for the promotion of the pastoral ministry and apostolate to the family, through the application of the teachings and guidelines of the Church’s Magisterium. Thus, Christian families can be helped as they accomplish their educational and apostolic mission in response to the realization of the Gospel of the family in the modern world.
The Dicastery has the task of coordinating and promoting pastoral efforts to further responsible procreation, and to encourage, sustain and coordinate initiatives for the protection human life in all stages of its existence, from conception to natural death. Other themes within the Council's sphere of competence are: theology and catechesis of the family; conjugal and family spirituality; child and family rights; formation of the laity engaged in pastoral care for the family; marriage preparation courses.
The Dicastery also deals with other questions such as demographics, contraception and abortion, sterilization, ethical and pastoral questions related to AIDS, and problems in the field of bio-ethics; marriage and family law, family policies and the protection of human life. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia is, since June 26th, 2012, the new President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He was appointed Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, on March 4th, 2000. His immediate predecessor is the President Emeritus, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. The Presidential Committee is composed of 18 cardinals and 7 archbishops and bishops; 20 married couples from all over the world are the members; and there are 40 consultants, a staff of 15 officials and many volunteers.
Since 1994, at the request of the Bishops' Conferences, the Pontifical Council offers refresher courses for Bishops and pastoral agents on: “The Family, Life and Ethical Questions”.
Since 1994, the Year of the Family, the Dicastery is responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families: Rome 1994; Rio de Janeiro 1997; Rome 2000, in the framework of the Jubilee of Families; Manila 2003; Valencia (Spain) in 2006; Mexico City 2009 and Milan (Italy) in 2012. The next World Meeting of Families will be held in September 2015 in Philadelphia, USA.
In 1996, the Pontifical Council for the Family began publishing the quarterly review Familia et Vita, which contains articles written by bishops and experts on subjects within the Dicastery’s fields of competence. The Council has promoted many publications, in different languages, on issues related to the family and life. The following should be recalled: the new Enchiridion on the family and life published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 2012 and the thick volume of the Acts (800 pages) of the VII Meeting held in the city of St. Ambrose and St. Charles.