Statement of Purpose

The purpose of the Office for Cultural and Pastoral Formation is to reflect on the issues that fall within the purview of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The Office will examine these issues and, in the horizon of the new evangelization, develop pastoral initiatives with respect to them, especially in light of their implications for human life at its most innocent and vulnerable stage—above all for children, but also for the sick and the aged.  Of particular interest is research in the fields of medicine and the natural and social sciences as it bears on these issues. In order to address our cultural situation in the most adequately human and Christian terms, the Office evaluates such research in light of its underlying philosophical and theological assumptions.  The Office is guided in its reflection especially by the anthropology of love (“theology of the body”) developed in the pontificates of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis in light of the Second Vatican Council and indeed of the whole of the Catholic tradition.  In a word, that anthropology is the recognition of what the Incarnation of Jesus Christ illuminates:  the human person’s very being is rooted in a gift of love and his fulfillment lies in a positive response to it. 

Our method lies principally in the promotion of conversation among natural and social scientists, physicians, theologians, philosophers, and other scholars, as well as educators and those working in pastoral fields, leading to initiatives emerging organically out of that conversation, such as conferences, symposia, and the like, as well as to research and publication where helpful, and the development of pastoral resources where needed.

Topics of particular interest include problems concerning marriage, procreation, and the education of children, which entail an examination of such related issues as: the meaning of marriage, divorce, courtship (education towards a state of life), “parenting” (the meaning of paternity, maternity, and childhood), the home (and technology in it), “working families,” day-care, sex-education, adoption, reproductive technology, cloning, abortion, same-sex unions, and so forth.   Moreover, insofar as these topics implicate the broader culture, the Office is interested in questions concerning society and its institutions, especially in light of the Church’s call for a “civilization of love” and a “culture of life.”  In this vein, it examines problems in the areas of law (especially as it bears on the definition of marriage and the beginning of life), the conception of rights, religious freedom, the state of civil society, and the like.   Finally, the Office engages topics concerning the environment, especially in its connection with human ecology (and this in light of the connection between wholeness and holiness).  They include: agriculture and food, medicine, health, and healing.

The OCPF is developing three main areas by which it orders its interest in the above topics.  The first, Called to Love: Person, Body, and the Civilization of Love, addresses directly the anthropology of love which guides the our work as a whole.  The second, Recovering Origins, takes up the effects of divorce on children in light of contemporary research.  The third, Healing and the Nature of Medicine: A Dialogue with Mayo Clinic Physicians, engages basic questions about life and health which those who have been entrusted to heal are facing in increasingly dramatic ways.