VATICAN, October 17, 2001 ( – In a message to the head of the Italian Bishops Conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the publication of the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio,” Pope John Paul II called for politicians to consider the importance of the family.

In the letter the pope wrote the “cultural, social and political initiatives” must consider “first of all, the protection of human life, marriage and the family.” He said the family must be the “measure of all political action” and denounced measures which focus solely “on individuals neglecting or worse still, penalizing the family.” The pope called for a “radical change” to bring “the value of marriage and family” back to central importance. The pope stressed that the legal institution of marriage should be used by governments to discern between “the authentic family with its inalienable rights and other types of cohabitation.”

A copy of the pope’s letter is available (In Italian) at: