A topic very much on the mind of many clerics–not to mention families themselves: Marriage and Family.
432. The family is one of the most important treasures of Latin American and Caribbean peoples, and it is heritage of all humanity. In our countries a significant portion of the population is affected by difficult living conditions that directly threaten the family institution. As disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, we are called to work so that this situation may be transformed, and the family may assume its being and its mission (John Paul II, Second World Meeting with Families in Rio de Janeiro, October 4, 1997, n. 4) within society and the Church.(John Paul II, Address at the First World Meeting of Families, nn. 2 and 7, Rome, October 8, 1994; Second World Meeting of Families, Rio de Janeiro, October 3, 1997; FC 17, November 22, 1981; Benedict XVI, Family, be what you are! Valencia, July 8, 2006.)
Writers, speakers, preachers, and even popes offer many words on this topic. I look for something that gets to the core. The Aparecida bishops write of “mission within society and the Church.” Exactly what is that mission? In three simple words: imitation of Christ. How do men and women, as well as their children, show forth Christ by the example of their communal life? If we are speaking of sacramentality as something beyond a civil union, then it would seem that an intentional example is needed. Many modern writings, even that of lay people who have the experience from within marriage, seem to miss the most important impulse. They often focus instead on particulars which may or may not be within the bounds of the gifts of individuals or their families.
The bishops begin with sacrament:
433. The Christian family is founded on the sacrament of matrimony between a man and a woman, sign of God’s love for humankind and of Christ’s self-surrender for his spouse, the Church. This covenant of love gives rise to fatherhood and motherhood, and childhood and brother- and sisterhood, and the commitment of the couple to a better society.
And from this beginning the first emphasis is on Christ’s example of love and sacrifice for the benefit of others.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.