by Anthony Esolen –
The family is that natural society where individual liberty and the common good are most nearly reconciled. To deprive it of its rights is to rob people of a great part of what it is to be human.
The beauty and the divine order of the family is the very soul of his social teaching, because it is there, within the walls of the home, that society begins. Thus we hear him declare, against the statists of his time, that by the command of God “we have the family; the society of a man’s house — a society limited indeed in numbers, but no less a true society, anterior to every kind of State or nation, invested with rights and duties of its own, totally independent of the civil community.” This is the doctrine of subsidiarity at its core.
The Pope does not justify the family on utilitarian grounds. He does not affirm (what is true in any case) that there are many things the family can do that the State cannot do as well, or cannot do at all. Instead he founds the rights of the family in nature, and the God of nature. It is a society both human and divine. It is within those bonds of love or duty that children and parents both put faces upon law that would otherwise remain abstract, distant, sometimes threatening, sometimes impotent, but always extrinsic, and therefore not quite real. It is there, and only there, that law and love may be found growing together. [Read more…]