The family is a society whose primary end is to transmit life and to raise children. Because it is the source of life and of new human relationships, it constitutes the fundamental and irreplaceable cell of society. All the classical philosophers and political thinkers have affirmed it, and history has confirmed it. Well before Christianity, in ancient Rome, the familia was the cell of the civitas, and matrimony assured social stability, constituting, according to the precise definition of Cicero, the seminarium rei publicae  the seedbed of society which is born and expands from the family.Christianity elevated matrimony to a sacrament, and when the Roman Empire fell, crushed by the barbarians, the only entity which survived and constituted the basis of the society which was born, was the family. The birth of the European nations, from the beginning of the year 1000 coincided with the development of the institution of the family. The same etymology of the word ‘nation’ (from the Latin natus) moreover, does not refer to a “choice” but to birth, and indicates a set of men who have a common origin and a blood-tie. The territory in which various authorities were exercised in medieval society – referring to the head of the family, of the feudal baron or of the king – was uniformly called in documents, the patria, the dominion of the father. Such a conception of the family, which survived until the French Revolution and beyond, is founded on the idea that man is born within a given historical condition, which has insurmountable limits, beginning with death; that an objective and unchangeable nature exists; that this nature has its origin in God, Creator of the order of the universe. The Catholic Church, in her teaching, has always confirmed this conception of man and of society.
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