Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum

by Pope Saint John Paul II


Apostolic Constitution on the Pontifical Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family given by Pope John Paul II on October 7, 1982.

Publisher & Date

Vatican, October 7, 1982

John Paul Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God, as an everlasting memorial:

  1. The Church has always shown her special pastoral concern for the great sacrament of Matrimony (cf. Eph 5:32), since she is “conscious that marriage and the family are one of the greatest goods belonging to the human race” (Familiaris consortio §1). Indeed “the salvation of the individual, as well as of human and Christian society itself, is intimately connected with the health and well-being of marriage and the family” (Gaudium et spes §47).

    A sign of this special pastoral concern is the very lengthy treatment which the Second Vatican Council gave to it in its deliberations. The popes and bishops of the entire world have never tired of teaching and furthering the loftiest ideals of marriage and the family, while at the same time supplying answers to the questions of today as our predecessor Pope Paul VI did when he issued his encyclical, Humanæ vitæ.

    Among the many signs of this great concern in more recent times has been the Synod of Bishops held in Rome from 26 September until 25 October 1980, as well as the establishment of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

  2. Among the major responsibilities entrusted to the Church which have to do with marriage and the family, one of the most distinct is the duty to “state to everyone the plan of God for marriage and the family in order to safeguard its full vigour and advancement both in a human and a Christian sense” (Familiaris consortio §3).

    This is the reason why the Church was so zealous to study the theology of marriage and to set up institutes which would encourage the pastoral care of marriage and the family. These institutes were to work in a special way in the field of pastoral care.

    Now it has become necessary to found a primary Institute of studies whose special concern it will be to promote the basic theological and pastoral study of marriage and the family for the good of the whole Church.

  3. Therefore, after mature deliberation, we determine and decree that the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, which has already been set up at the Pontifical Lateran University, should now be given juridical form. This is done so that the truth of marriage and the family may be given ever closer attention and study, and so that lay people, religious and priests can receive scholarly formation in the study of marriage and the family both in a philosophical-theological way and from the point of view of the human sciences. In such a way their pastoral and ecclesial ministry for the good of the People of God will be more carefully and effectively carried out.

  4. Central to the concept of this Institute will be its right to confer the following academic degrees:
  • The Doctorate in Sacred Theology with a specialisation in the theology of Marriage and the Family.
  • The Licentiate in Theology of Marriage and the Family.
  • The Diploma in the study of Marriage and the Family.
  1. The Institute will implement the following objectives:

    a. The establishment of a curriculum leading to a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in the theological study of Marriage and the Family for those who already have attained the Licentiate in Sacred Theology.

    b. The establishment of a curriculum for the Licentiate in Sacred Theology for those who have received the Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology.

    c. The establishment of a curriculum for Diplomas in the Theology of Marriage and the Family for those who are entitled to take courses at the University level in their own Nation.

    d. The planning of study-seminars to which people of sound judgment may be invited to consider the more serious and important questions pertaining to Marriage and the Family. These seminars may take place at the request of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia or of individual Episcopal Conferences.

  2. The Academic Authorities of the Institute consist of the Chancellor and Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University and the President and Council of the Institute. The Supreme Pontiff shall name the President who shall be ex officio a member of the Academic Senate of the Pontifical Lateran University.

  3. Whatever this Apostolic Constitution establishes shall in due time be put into effect by the specific regulations of the Institute. These shall be approved by the legitimate Authority of the Holy See after hearing the advice of the Academic Senate of the Pontifical Lateran University.

  4. The Institute shall have a special connection with the Pontifical Council for the Family in accord with the terms of the motu proprio Familia a Deo Instituta §§5f.

  5. The Institute is entrusted in a special way to the care of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title Our Lady of Fatima.

  6. The Constitution, which, contrary to custom, is promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, shall take effect from 14 October 1982.

  7. Finally, we want this Constitution of ours to be firm, valid and effective, and it must be scrupulously observed by all concerned, notwithstanding anything to the contrary.
Given at Rome, at St Peter’s, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, 7 October 1982, in the fourth year of our pontificate.

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