Marriage & Family Life

Our work springs from the belief that loving and just family relationships build up the Church, strengthen society, and glorify God.

The Office of Marriage and Family helps support the spiritual life, personal relationships, and dignity of all human beings. This includes single persons, newly engaged men and women, married couples, families with children and without them, and the widowed and the divorced.

We promote the Theology of the Body, a timeless and universal presentation by Pope Saint John Paul II on what it means to be human.  In this rich body of text, the Holy Father presents the perennial teachings of the Church on love and the family in a way that is accessible to the modern reader.

On this site you’ll also find information and supportive resources for Catholic marriage preparation, marriage enrichment, and programs to heal marriage difficulties. We offer extensive information on Natural Family Planning, and Catholic resources for dealing with infertility.

We believe, as did Pope John Paul II, who never tired of reminding us, that the future of all humanity depends on marriage and the family. Please contact us directly if we can offer you and your families our personal support.

Upcoming Events

Nov 01
Life-Giving Wounds Retreat
November 1-3, 2024   A Retreat For Adult Children of Divorced/Separated Parents Dealing with our parents’ divorce is not easy but confronting this wound with faith can allow us to… Read More

Family Planning

The Church teaches us that married couples are called to partnership with God in the supreme privilege of begetting new human life.

Pope Paul Vi wrote in his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.”

We therefore believe that family planning decisions — how many children to have and when — belongs solely to the couple and to God. The marital sexual act has both a unitive and a procreative purpose and the Church believes that to interfere with (all forms of direct contraception) or separate the two (in-vitro fertilization) is morally wrong.

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is approved by the Church as an appropriate form of family planning. Unlike any other family planning method, NFP offers many benefits. Finally, NFP can also be of great help in conceiving children for those with fertility difficulties.

Marriage Resources

“The whole history of mankind is the history of the need of loving and being loved. Marriage is a ‘school of love'” —  Pope St. John Paul II

St Paul says the union of man and woman to become ‘one flesh’ in marriage is a ‘great mystery.’ It is also a vocation — a call to live one’s entire life in a particular way, devoted to the good of one’s spouse. It is a life-long commitment to love, and to grow in love.

Those called to the vocation of marriage can benefit from ongoing enrichment, to deepen and strengthen their marriage bonds. The Archdiocese of San Francisco offers periodic workshops and other events for married couples.

Couples often go through great difficulties in their marriage. Sometimes these can seem so severe as to threaten to tear the marriage apart. The Archdiocese is also committed to providing as many resources as possible to help couples heal and strengthen their marriages. 

Theology of the Body

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a man? A woman? How can we find happiness?

These are universal human questions. Pope John Paul II addressed these questions in a series of talks that we know as the Theology of the Body. From 1978 to 1983 he delivered to the Church and the world a catechesis that addresses what it means to be human and to be happy: the nature and meaning of love, what it means to be created male and female, the human need for community, the meaning of sexuality, and the complementarity between celibacy and marriage.

In his work, the Holy Father presents the perennial teachings of the Church, but in a new way, one that is more accessible to the modern reader. In essence, he develops the Church’s teaching ‘from the ground up’ — challenging men and women to begin with their own experiences, to look at them deeply, and to learn from them, with the help of Revelation and of the Church, how they are congruent with Church teaching.

The complete papal teaching is available in a new translation by Michael Waldstein, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, which also has an excellent introduction. It is a dense read, but well worth the effort. You can also read these papal audiences in an earlier translation here.

There are many resources online. A selection of the best can be found on our Theology of the Body page. There are also periodic classes available locally. Contact Ed Hopfner at 415-614-5547 or [email protected] for information.

Amoris Laetitia

The Papal document resulting from the Synods on the Family was released in April 2016. Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), on Love in t]ikJ9O
Amoris Laetitia – English
Amoris Laetitia – Spanish
Vatican Summary – English
Vatican Reading Guide – English

Archbishop Cordileone has written a series of reflections on the document in Catholic San Francisco:
Part 1: The Human Person
Part 2: Christian Marriage
Part 3: Responsible Parenthood
Part 4: Christian Marriage and Divorce
Part 5: Why Male and Female
Part 6: Implementing Amoris Laetitia
Representative commentary and news coverage at the time of publication are included here:
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone
US Catholic Bishops

Divorced Catholics

“May the church be the place of God’s mercy and love, where everyone can feel themselves welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live according to…the Gospel.”   – Pope Francis

The Archdiocese of San Francisco has a special ministry for men and women who have experienced the pain of separation and divorce. We believe that the Church has a rich treasury of people, Holy Scripture, tradition, and pastoral ministry on which it can draw to serve its members whose marriages end in divorce.
We strive to lay open this wealth and make known Christ’s abundant healing love so that all who suffer from separation and divorce might experience healing, reconciliation, and new life. We also recognize that separated and divorced people, through their vulnerability, suffering, courage, faithfulness, and patient endurance, bear witness to Christ and his redeeming grace in the world. They are not mere recipients of the Church’s compassion; they are as well, ministers of that compassion.

Catholic Divorce Ministry
We have a support group that meets on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, 6:30 p.m. at the Parish Center, St.Brendan parish, 29 Rockaway Ave, San Francisco.  Please go to or contact Diana (415-929-0999 or [email protected].)  or Martin (650 -739-6446)  for more information.

New Beginnings
St. Hilary’s Parish has set up a special ministry for men and women who have experienced or are experiencing the pain of separation and divorce. We meet the 2nd Friday of every month (6:30 p.m.)  Contact Karen (415-250-2597). 

A Spanish-speaking group meets at Our Lady of Loreto/Novato on the 3rd Friday of the month (7:00pm) – contact Victoria (702-460-3116).


Ed Hopfner, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family