Thursday 27. June 2019

Prof. Annemie Dillen

Sustainable relationships


Catholic social teaching on family life stresses the role families have to play in society and in the church, especially also in serving life, and the role they have as community for each family member (cf. Familiaris Consortio, no. 17). Therefore, a stable basis for the family, found in strong marriages, is especially relevant. The European Union has a role to play in stimulating sustainable relationships, among others by supporting marriages, marital and relational counseling and education in different ways.


From a catholic point of view, we can state that men and women have a double vocation: for family life, as partners and parents, but also as workers in the public world (paid and voluntarily). Policy measures that enable people to work, especially also young adult people, and prevent unemployment, are very important, not only for financial reasons, as they help people to support themselves and their families, but also because work is foundational for the dignity of people. Given that young people in general want to contribute to family life (in light of ‘honoring their parents’), it is essential that they can find a job.


Although employment and work are considered as very important factors that can contribute to family life and to people’s dignity, Catholic social teaching also focuses on the relevance of rest, especially on Sunday. It is a challenge for European policy to make sure that Sunday can continue to function as a day when family members can spend time together. The Catechism writes, in reference to the Second Vatican Council (GS 67 § 3): “The institution of Sunday helps all ‘to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives“ (2194). The Catechism states: “In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees”(2187).


Prof. Dr. Annemie Dillen

Associate Professor Practical Theology,

Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies,

KU Leuven, Belgium





"The first and fundamental structure for "human ecology" is the family, in which man receives his first formative ideas about truth and goodness, and learns what it means to love and to be loved, and thus what it actually means to be a person". Pope John Paul II (Centesimus Annus, 39)



"By virtue of this principle (of subsidiarity), the State cannot and must not take away from families the functions that they can just as well perform on their own or in free associations (...)". Pope John Paul II (Familiaris consortio, 45)


Every marriage has difficult moments. But these experiences of the Cross can make the path of love even stronger.