Words of John Paul II:
In particular, responsible fatherhood and motherhood directly concern the moment in which a man and a woman, uniting themselves “in one flesh”, can become parents —father and mother—by communicating life to a new human being. The two dimensions of conjugal union, the unitive and the procreative, cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself.
The Church both teaches the moral truth about responsible fatherhood and motherhood and protects it from the erroneous views and tendencies which are widespread today.
The Second Vatican Council, particularly conscious of the problem of man and his calling, states that the conjugal union, the biblical “una caro”, can be understood and fully explained only by recourse to the values of the “person” and of “gift”. Every man and every woman fully realizes himself or herself through the sincere gift of self. For spouses, the moment of conjugal union constitutes a very particular expression of this. All married life is a gift; but this becomes most evident when the spouses, in giving themselves to each other in love, bring about that encounter which makes them “one flesh”.
They then experience a moment of special responsibility, which is also the result of the procreative potential linked to the conjugal act. At that moment, the spouses can become father and mother, initiating the process of a new human life, which will then develop in the woman’s womb. If the wife is the first to realize that she has become a mother, the husband, to whom she has been united in “one flesh”, then learns this when she tells him that he has become a father. Both are responsible for their potential and later actual fatherhood and motherhood. The husband cannot fail to acknowledge and accept the result of a decision which has also been his own. He cannot hide behind expressions such as: “I don’t know”, “I didn’t want it”, or “you’re the one who wanted it”. In every case conjugal union involves the responsibility of the man and of the woman.
In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant. The logic of the total gift of self to the other involves a potential openness to procreation: in this way the marriage is called to even greater fulfilment as a family. Certainly the mutual gift of husband and wife does not have the begetting of children as its only end, but is in itself a mutual communion of love and of life. The intimate truth of this gift must always be safeguarded. “Intimate” is not here synonymous with “subjective”. Rather, it means essentially in conformity with the objective truth of the man and woman who give themselves. The person can never be considered a means to an end; above all never a means of “pleasure”. The person is and must be nothing other than the end of every act. Only then does the action correspond to the true dignity of the person.
Almighty God, we give thanks to you for your great gift to the Church of Christ in the person of John Paul II, whom we will call Blessed in a very short while. May his teachings enlighten our minds, may he transform our doubts into faith, may he form our families in love, and may the example of his life and his love for the Savior, which we desire to imitate, bring all of us into closer union with you. We ask this through your Son, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
Glory Be to the Father….