In my first installment, I looked at Pope Leo XIII’s early encyclical Inscrutabili (1878), on the evils affecting modern society, wherein the Pope decried the state’s displacement of the Church’s institutions established for charitable work and the education of youth. I kept in reserve Leo’s severe condemnation of new laws regarding marriage.
The issue is not incidental. Pope Leo never speaks about economics without directing his steady gaze at the household and the family, the love of man and woman bound in holy matrimony, and the children they raise. It isn’t that a society is made up of families as a factory is made up of bricks. It’s rather that each family is in itself a society, and each Christian family is a domestic Church. When Saint Paul said that wives must reverence their husbands and husbands must love their wives, he wasn’t just giving practical advice on how to maintain harmony under the roof. He was affirming the real analogy in being, between Christian marriage and the union of Christ and the Church, which is the perfect society, the perfect fellowship of love. Therefore laws that strike at the holiness of marriage attack the heart of the Church and of civil society.