36. (Human beings are) not really (themselves), however, except within the framework of society and there the family plays the basic and most important role.
Still true, despite excesses:
The family’s influence may have been excessive at some periods of history and in some places, to the extent that it was exercised to the detriment of the fundamental rights of the individual.
I suspect that abuses perpetrated from outside the family were far more detrimental on larger scales than social pressures from within. Let’s not forget upper crust Europeans and their descendants were responsible for the fracturing of families of the 99% not only through slavery, but vile working conditions and cultural pressures the hindered a full expression of family life.
Yet time honored social frameworks, proper to the developing nations, are still necessary for awhile, even as their excessive strictures are gradually relaxed. The natural family, stable and monogamous—as fashioned by God (Cf. Matthew 19:6) and sanctified by Christianity—”in which different generations live together, helping each other to acquire greater wisdom and to harmonize personal rights with other social needs, is the basis of society” (Gaudium et Spes 52)
This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link. CC BY 2.5, Link“>The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.