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From the Catholic Encyclopedia (1912)

Below is a section from the Catholic Encyclopedia that I mentioned in my homily today. Please read it carefully and note how different it is from anything in the world, from most non-Catholic Christian traditions, and even from much of what is taught in the Catholic Church. We have come a long way, and it is not all good.


"...The obligations of mutual fidelity have been sufficiently stated above. The particular functions of husband and wife in the family are determined by their different natures, and by their relation to the primary end of the family, namely, the procreation of children. Being the provider of the family, and the superior of the wife both in physical strength and in those mental and moral qualities which are appropriate to the exercise of authority, the husband is naturally the family's head, even "the head of the wife", in the language of St. Paul. This does not mean that the wife is the husband's slave, his servant, or his subject. She is his equal, both as a human being and as member of the conjugal society, save only that when a disagreement arises in matters pertaining to domestic government, she is, as a rule, to yield. To claim for her completely equal authority with the husband is to treat woman as man's equal in a matter in which nature has made them unequal. On the other hand the care and management of the details of the household belong naturally to the wife, because she is better fitted for these tasks than the husband.

Since the primary end of the family is the procreation of children, the husband or wife who shirks this duty from any but spiritual or moral motives reduces the family to an unnatural and unchristian level. This is emphatically true when the absence of offspring has been effected by any of the artificial and immoral devices so much in vogue at present. When the conjugal union has been blessed with children, both parents are charged, according to their respective functions, with the duty of sustaining and educating those undeveloped members of the family. Their moral and religious formation is for the most part the work of the mother, while the task of providing for their physical and intellectual wants falls chiefly upon the father. The extent to which the different wants of the children are to be supplied will vary with the ability and resources of the parents. Finally, the children are bound, generally speaking, to render to the parents implicit love, reverence, and obedience, until they have reached their majority, and love, reverence, and a reasonable degree of support and obedience afterward..."


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