Pope Benedict: The Human Family, a Community of Peace

See also The Family
the Vital Cell of Society

The family, society and peace

Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's New Years address, January, 1, 2008: THE HUMAN FAMILY, A COMMUNITY OF PEACE

2. The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman,2 constitutes "the primary place of ‘humanization' for the person and society",3 and a "cradle of life and love".4 The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, "a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order".5

3. Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is no wonder, therefore, that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Consequently, when it is said that the family is "the primary living cell of society",6 something essential is being stated. The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family. Where can young people gradually learn to savour the genuine "taste" of peace better than in the original "nest" which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the "vocabulary" of peace.

4. . . .  The denial or even the restriction of the rights of the family, by obscuring the truth about man, threatens the very foundations of peace.

5. Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.


2 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes , 48.
3 John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici , 40: AAS 81 (1989), 469.
4 Ibid.
6 Second Vatican Council, Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem , 11.

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