Catechism of the Catholic Church

Life in Christ 533 II. T he F amily and S ociety 2207 The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relation­ ships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, se­ curity, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initia­ tion into life in society. 2208 The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” 12 2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of support­ ing the institution of the family. Following the principle of sub­ sidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life. 2210 The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society 13 entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty “to acknowledge the true nature of mar­ riage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.” 14 2211 The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially: — the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family’s own moral and religious convictions; — the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family; — the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children in it, with the necessary means and institutions; 12 Jas 1:27. 13 Cf. GS 47 § 1. 14 GS 52 § 2. 1880 372 1603 1883