From the essay with that title, written by Rev. Michael Bruno for Homiletic & Pastoral Review:
The beatification of Pope John Paul II serves as a significant reminder of the theological and spiritual legacy of his nearly twenty- seven year papacy. Among the many efforts that the late pontiff engaged in was the battle against what he famously called, in his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium vitae, a “culture of death” 1—a cultural reality he knew in his own life in war-torn and communist-controlled Poland. However, more than simply challenging the darkness, caused by the cultural and ethical challenges of our day, Pope John Paul II proposed and preached a different, truly “counter-cultural” vision, as a theologian, bishop, and as Roman Pontiff. He called humanity to rediscover an anthropology based in the beauty and dignity of human life, laying its foundation firmly in Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition. One clear example of this bold and prophetic project came to us in the 1981 Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, which is known for its canonical and theological considerations on the Sacrament of Matrimony.
However, in this Apostolic Exhortation, Pope John Paul II makes often overlooked anthropological affirmations that form the basis of the canonical and theological affirmations of the rest of the document. One such affirmation comes in the beginning of the second section of the document, dedicated to “The Plan of God for Marriage and the Family.” In the opening line of this section, the late pontiff writes, “God created man in his own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love, he called him at the same time for love.” 2 In this important statement, we find an interpretation of Gen 1:26, based in a personalist, anthropological approach—an approach which John Paul II carried throughout his life, which was prevalent in his theological and philosophical outlook. His focus upon this particular verse of Genesis is, in fact, no surprise as Gen 1:26 remains a key reference point in Christian anthropology, and has been discussed steadily within the tradition of the Church. However, by drawing from a personalist perspective, in his exegesis of Gen 1:26, John Paul II broadened the horizon of the scriptural interpretation of this passage. It transformed the mode by which the Magisterium discusses the nature of man. To demonstrate this, I would like to examine in more detail Familiaris Consortio [FC] §11. For in this often overlooked passage, John Paul II affirms that creation in the image and likeness of God defines not only the nature of humanity, but also its fullest realization.