The Traditional Family

Throughout history, over millennia and across civilizations, heterosexual marriage, procreation and the nurturing of children has been the bedrock of society.  It is the best, most cost-effective welfare safety net ever created – husbands taking care of wives and children. Wives taking care of husbands and children, children taking care of parents.

Today, the traditional family has no greater supporter and friend than the Catholic Church.

Yet for the past fifty years, the ‘modern’ world has been practicing a vast, uncontrolled experiment in redesigning society.  Contraception, abortion, feminism, secularism, radical individualism, relativism and acceptance of perversion are found now in most countries.  Worse, marriage is being redefined to the point of meaninglessness.  All these have greatly undermined the traditional family, to the point at which in many European countries it is more common for children to be born out of wedlock than to a married couple.

Not surprisingly, a mammoth, extremely costly social welfare system has developed to fill in for what the traditional family did naturally and efficiently.  How this system will be funded in the future with a rapidly declining population is one of Europe’s most pressing problems.

However, in a society in which Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life and the indissolubility of marriage prevailed, not only would the birth dearth disappear but the public welfare system would need to be only a small fraction of the size of those in today’s modern secular state.

The cornerstone of the Church’s social gospel is support for families, and the Vatican has always strongly articulated governments’ obligation to support natural families.  As Pope Leo XIII wrote in ‘Rerum Novarum’:

“It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, it is natural that he should wish that his children should be by him provided with all that is needful to enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery … if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire”.

Most Western governments are marching down this destructive path by hindering rather than supporting the traditional family.

As the Church has long maintained, only by recognizing God’s sovereignty and protecting the natural law and natural institutions like marriage and the family can governments re-establish and maintain their citizens’ loyalty.

Clearly, without the Church, the glorious civilization known as Europe – the greatest mankind has known – will die.  To regain its grandeur, Europe must regain its faith.

This might seem utopian but … how much easier is it to rebuild something than to create it in the first place?  All we need is the will and it can be so again!

family saying grace


12 Responses to “The Traditional Family”

  1. 1 Chris June 20, 2009 at 09:30

    The true problem, I think, is not serial divorce, or gay marriage, or widespread elective childlessness, or the general disregard for the lives of the very young and very old. Those are only symptoms. The deepest problem is the loss of a generally shared vision, firmly grounded in nature, of what the family is, and why our destiny as individuals and as a society is inseparable from its proper flourishing. None of the other things would be happening if our vision of the family itself were not so confused and wavering.
    As an American living in Europe I’m surprised that the condition here is a helluva lot more serious than back home, I suppose we have the whole mid-west that saves us 😉

  2. 2 Feliks Wallenty, Denmark June 20, 2009 at 10:33

    I’m not Catholic but I know for sure that the welfare state has destroyed the culture of hard work and family. I cringe every time I hear someone talk about poverty as an excuse for abortion.
    I don’t want to discuss here the rights and wrongs of abortion, but how can you make an excuse that you are too poor to have a child and you have to abort? During much harder economic times, families were having ten or twelve children. Huge families were not uncommon. Today, these abortionists want me to believe that with economic conditions a hundred times better than before, they can’t afford to have a child. They’re going to have to do better than that.
    It’s not easy to have a child whether you are rich or poor. At any point in life a baby is difficult to raise and deal with. Even with a university degree, a young mother will have just as much difficulty as a teenager. These are facts of life. Raising children is hard work! The welfare state has reinforced the idea that if anything is hard, it must be wrong (especially here in my country).
    Doing the right thing is not easy. Difficulty does not justify immoral actions. Sure, taking care of your elderly parents is harder on you than having the state do it. But is it your moral responsibility? Yes. It is not the responsibility of some other taxpayer who does not even know your parents. Anyone who would leave it to strangers to care for their elderly parents should be ashamed (I think I am the only one person who thinks like this here in my country!).

  3. 3 andrea June 20, 2009 at 11:17

    Questa tradizione purtroppo si sta estinguendo.
    In Italia sono pochissime le famiglie di questo tipo,mentre in america,si continua a vederle, anche se questa tradizione stia venendo sempre meno.


  4. 4 Annachiara June 20, 2009 at 12:49

    Purtroppo, Andrea, purtroppo.
    Eppure io, come Gabriella, un po’ di speranza la tengo e credo che la Chiesa Cattolica deve fare sua questa battaglia, ogni momento, in ogni parrocchia, in omelie dopo omelie perchè i fedeli non devono esclusivamente sentire solo il lato “laico” e dimenticare gli insegnamenti profondi del nostro credo.
    Mi piace quando Gabriella dice: “This might seem utopian but … how much easier is it to rebuild something than to create it in the first place? All we need is the will and it can be so again!” E’ molto vero, sai. Perchè là fuori ce ne sono molti come me e te – addirittura leggo qui sopra uno in Danimarca! – dobbiamo solo farci sentire e darci da fare.
    In America si continua a vederle e se ne parla anche molto, sui giornali, in internet, ecc. ….. se l’America crolla, nel mio modesto punto di vista, è la fine della nostra civiltà occidentale! L’Europa per me è una grossa delusione.

  5. 5 Seth, Manitoba June 20, 2009 at 17:38

    I suppose that same-sex marriage is totally excluded from what you call a traditional family.
    Ask just about anyone. They’ll all tell you they’re in favor of equal rights for homosexuals. Just name the situation, and ask. They’ll all say, yes, gays should have the same rights in housing, jobs, public accomodations, and should have equal access to government benefits, equal protection of the law, etcetera, etcetera. Then you get to gay marriage. And that’s when all this talk of equality stops dead cold.
    I’m not gay and it took me a long time to understand that gay marriage doesn’t harm anyone, it only makes life better for some. A generous and inclusive definition of marriage actually strengthens the institution and the only reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage is discomfort and resistance to change for the better.
    Some people insist that same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage. That one’s contradictory right on the face of it. Threaten marriage? By allowing people to marry? That doesn’t sound very logical to me.

  6. 6 Ron June 20, 2009 at 20:47

    Seth, this whole issue is nothing to do with discrimination. If two men wish to marry for financial reasons or other reasons, though they are not homosexual, the law would still deny them a license to marry, since the union of two men does not fall within the definition of marriage, even where homosexuality is not involved. It is not the homosexuality per se but the union of the same gendered that is oxymoronic with marriage. No discrimination at all. Be careful, all things are not the same. Our modern world is full of assertions of moral relativism that all things are deemed the same and thus are meaningless.

    The problem with society over the last forty years or so is more than having been asked to tolerate and accept modes of conduct till now outside the respectable norms. It is that those engaged in those activities demand that society redefine its institutions and overturn cherished and wise traditions in order not only to accommodate their whims but also affirm as equally legitimate and desirable such activities. Most often, they are accorded special privileges, with governments zealously targeting employers to meet quotas and, first, prove their innocence in hiring and rental practices if they are to be free from penalization.

    What begins as a person’s or group’s desire for private, individual expression always ends up with that activity being given public sanctification, with regular citizens bearing all the costs. These redefinitions result in the banalization and degradation of the previously accepted standards and practices. Worse, language is reconfigured so that, for example, husbands are simply partners, wives are simply spouses. Sex education will be forced to teach about the alternatively valid homosexual marriage, and woe to those parents and students who balk: the power of the government will come down upon them harshly.

    Will churches and synagogues that cite Scripture forbidding such marriage be indicted for hate speech? Oh yes, they will be! We hear about homosexual rights, never first realizing that what ultimately will be taken from most everyone else will be freedom of speech and religion; our privacy itself. Our tolerance for the unconventional will result in universal intolerance for the conventional, the necessary.

  7. 7 andrea June 21, 2009 at 23:01

    Concordo pienamente con Annachiara nell’affermare che l’Europa sia stata una grande delusione. Il fatto che la famiglia sia tra le cose più disprezzate,come la sacralità della vita va parallelamente al fatto che l’Europa rinnega le proprie origini,le proprie radici cristiane. E penso che questa sia una cosa molto grave,anche perchè,in un certo senso, mi ricorda il brano evangelico del talento sotterrato. Cosa ne ha fatto l’Europa del talento ricevuto? Perdendo le sue origini questa Europa si sta perdendo nella fragilità. E poi ci si lamenta anche degli immigrrati,che,anche se di religione diversa(ma ci sono anche cristiani),almeno portano qualche “valore”.


  8. 8 Brian June 21, 2009 at 23:10

    Dear Gabriella,

    Thank you so much for these words. I especially love the picture you posted. Blessed Mother Teresa always said “The family that prays together, stays together.”

    God bless you!

  9. 9 Giuseppe June 22, 2009 at 01:28

    Personalmente ho sempre creduto nei valori morali della famiglia tradizionale, nella sua unità e forza, nell’importanza di trasmettere amore ai figli, nel fatto naturale per i genitori di affrontare sacrifici per loro.La famiglia dovrebbe rappresentare il progetto più importante della vita di ognuno di noi.Sul pianeta le famiglie tradizionali sono ancora una forza sociale maggioritaria benchè certi governi di paesi civilizzati , ma di già in discesa sulla strada della decadenza morale sembrano impazienti di volerne l’estinzione ridisegnando la società modernamettendo l’uomo al centro dell’universo. Certe mode hanno convinto l’uomo e la donna che è più semplice accoppiarsi senza impegni anche quando un figlio fa la sua apparizione; un’altra permette ad ogni donna di interrompere la propria gravidanza senza rincrescimenti .Un’altra ancora ci obbliga purtroppo ad assistere sbaciucchiamenti patetici di coppie dello stesso sesso .
    Ma chiediamoci, cosa lasceranno queste persone dietro di loro? Ha il mondo veramente bisogno di paesi con una società moralmente decadente come biglietto da visita?
    Lasciamoli pure godere questo momento di celebrità,lasciamoli pure sfilare davanti al colonnato del Bernini;
    Continuiamo a credere in quello che facciamo e trasmettere ai nostri figli i valori morali che li guideranno nel cammino della vita. Sicuramente lasceremo pure un seme per la generazione successiva.

  10. 10 Cinzia June 23, 2009 at 05:54

    I have been reading this thread with much interest and agree wholeheartedly with all of your comments above – and again, Gabriella, what a great article!!!

    Feliks – I feel like you do, that I must be the only one in this country who “thinks like this” – or one of the very few anyway.

    Ron – you are so right!!

    Andrea – non e’ solo l’Europe una grande delusione … qui in Australia le statistiche dimostrano che si eseguono all’incirca 150,000 aborti ogni anno (in un paese di soli 20 milioni di abitanti).

    A fresh new law that supercedes the one “out of date” passed a few months ago in this country (Australia) allowing “later term” abortions to be carried out, ie. up to the 25th week of gestation – while statistics for past years show some 150,000 abortions being carried out per year under the out-of-date legislation.

    The pathetic argument used most of the time by the media and all those pro-abortionists is that “women should be allowed to make decisions that concern their own bodies and no one should try to stop them …”

    THEIR OWN BODIES ????? Are we really that thick????

    At least come up with a better excuse for the mass murder of the most innocent and helpless of all human beings.

  11. 11 Daniel Oliver July 6, 2009 at 11:59

    so true, so interesting, a nice read!!! great website.

  12. 12 bloggingfromthebog January 31, 2010 at 19:20

    The “traditional family” as we know it is a fairly modern invention when taken in context of how long humans have existed on earth. The Industrial Revolution and capitalism changed society to reflect what you are now calling the “traditional family” and as society changes and evolves further, new models of family WILL emerge. That is to be expected, not feared. As there was a time that the “traditional family” meant a man at the head and a woman and children his possessions, romanticizing the past while fearing the future is not very constructive.

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