What does the Catholic Church teach about the family?
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What does the Catholic Church teach about the family?

What place does the family have in God’s plan of creation?
 
A man and a woman who are married to each other form, together with their children, a family.  God wills that the love of the spouses, if possible, should produce children.  These children, who are entrusted to the protection and care of their parents, have the same dignity as their parents.
God himself, in the depths of the Trinity, is communion.  In the human sphere, the family is the primordial image of communion.  The family is the unique school of living in relationships.  Nowhere do children grow up as well as in an intact family, in which they experience heartfelt affection, mutual respect, and responsibility for one another.  Finally, faith grows in the family, too; the family is, the Church tells us, a miniature church, a “domestic church”, the radiance of which should invite others into this fellowship of faith, charity and hope.
 
 
Are families irreplaceable?
 
Every child is descended from one father and one mother and longs for the warmth and safety of a family so that he may grow up secure and happy.  The family is the basic cell of human society.  The values and principles that are lived out in the small circle of the family are what make solidarity in the life of larger society possible in the first place.
 
 
Why should the state protect and promote families?
 
The welfare and future of a state depend on the ability of the smallest unit within it, the family, to live and develop.  No state has the right to intrude on the basic cell of society, the family, by its regulations or to question its right to exist.  No state has the right to define the family differently, for the family’s commission comes from the Creator.  No state has the right to deprive the family of its fundamental functions, especially in the area of education.  On the contrary, every state has the duty to support families with its assistance and to ensure that its material needs are met.
 
 
How does a child respect his parents?
 
A child respects and honours his parents by showing them love and gratitude.  Children should be grateful to their parents in the first place because they received their life from the love of their parents.  This gratitude establishes a lifelong relationship of love, respect, responsibility, and obedience, rightly understood.  Especially in times of need, sickness, and old age, children should lovingly be there for their parents and care for them faithfully.
 
 
How do parents respect their children?
 
God entrusted children to parents so that they might be steady, righteous examples to those children, that they might love and respect them and do everything possible so that their children can develop physically and spiritually.  Children are a gift from God and not the property of the parents.  Before they are the parents’ children, they are God’s children.  The primary duty of parents is to present to their children the Good News and to communicate the Christian faith to them.
 
 
How should a family live its faith together?
 
A Christian family should be a miniature church.  All Christian family members are invited to strengthen one another in faith and to outdo one another in their zeal for God.  They should pray for and with each other and collaborate in works of charity.  Parents stand in for their children with their own faith, have them baptised, and serve as their models of faith.  That means that parents should make it possible for their children to experience how valuable and beneficial it is to live in the familiar presence of the loving God.  At some time, however, the parents, too, will learn from their children’s faith and hear how God speaks through them, because the faith of young people is often accompanies by a greater devotion and generosity and “because the Lord often reveals to a younger person what is better”.
  
 
Why is God more important than the family?
 
Without relationship a person cannot live.  Man’s most important relationship is the one he has with God.  This has priority over all human relationships, even family relationships.  Children do not belong to their parents, nor do parents belong to their children.  Every person belongs directly to God.  Only to God is man bound absolutely and always.  This is how we understand what Jesus said to those who are called: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37).  Therefore parents should place their children confidently into God’s hands if the Lord calls them to the consecrated life in a religious order or to be a priest.
 
(From the Catholic Youth Catechism)

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