Last Updated on March 10, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 305
This text was written by Pope Pius XI as a papal encyclical, a letter that addresses some element of Catholic church doctrine. This letter is addressed to all the archbishops, bishops, and other church leaders who enforce papal laws, and it was written in response to a conference held by the Anglican church, called the Lambeth Conference, in 1930. The Lambeth Conference takes place every ten years so that church leaders can discuss topical issues and determine how the church will address them, and the conference that year had altered the Anglican church's stance on birth control usage. Pius penned this encyclical in the same year in order to emphasize that the Catholic church's position on birth control was unaltered.
As a result of the nature of this text—it discusses Catholic church doctrine and how best to address attacks on morality as concerns marriage—there are no characters. Pius addresses the proper roles for men and women in marriage, as well as the importance of children. He says that children are first "amongst the blessings of marriage": they are, in fact, the entire reason for marriage in the first place. The goal of a man and woman in choosing to marry is to fulfill God's decree that people "Increase and multiply." The parents' role, after producing these children, is to commit themselves to the support and maintenance of the children, including "the proper education of the offspring." This proper education—a knowledge and love of God and God's law, via the Catholic church—is primarily to be brought about by the mother, while the father works to support the children materially. Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church, and wives should enact a companionable obedience to their husbands. The husband is the head of the household while the wife is the heart.
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