Bijdragen: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie en Theologie vol:70 issue:1 pages:67-86
The paper explores the possible contribution of Familiaris consortio to a contemporary theology of marriage. It argues that the exhortation and its author, Pope John Paul II, may be credited for two major innovations in the magisterial teaching: first, in taking its starting point from the human person and her capacity to love, the document has definitely overcome the earlier view, clearly articulated e.g. in Pius XI’s encyclical Casti connubii, which looked at marriage primarily in terms of a natural institution and only in a second instance at its interpersonal value; second, it has attributed to marriage and the family a position in the mystery of salvation and consequently in the mission of the Church, which is unprecedented in previous teaching. However, by equating “God’s plan for marriage” with the “nuptial mystery of salvation” and by imposing onto human marital love the model of Christ’s total self-giving, the papal exhortation ultimately forfeits what it seemed to have gained in terms of a renewed theology of marriage: it ultimately fails to recognize that God’s salvific plan does not float above history but takes shape in the concrete lives of couples and families and that their lived experiences should therefore be given a place in theology and in the mission of the Church.