Marriage and the Family

§ 2201 The conjugal community is established upon the consent of the spouses. Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. The love of the spouses and the begetting of children create among members of the same family personal relationships and primordial responsibilities.

§ 2202 A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.

§ 2203 In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. For the common good of its members and of society, the family necessarily has manifold responsibilities, rights, and duties.

Parental Rights

§ 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;
  • the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;
  • in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;
  • the protection of security and health, especially with respect to dangers like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;
  • the freedom to form associations with other families and so to have representation before civil authority.15

§ 2221 The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.”29 The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.30

§ 2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.

§ 2237 Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged. The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons. Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation and the human community.


§ 2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.174 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.175 Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”176

§ 2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery: If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.178


§ 2354 Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.