I include it on this blog for it's reference to Chesterton, but since it is a wonderful reflection by Pope St. John Paul II in its own right, I have quoted it at greater length than I normally would have.
(Incidentally, for an instance of John Paul 2 quoting GKC in a general audience, go here
Since the notorious 'Families, I hate you' uttered by a man who cultivated his faults with as much care as a gardener cultivates his roses, one or two generations of moralists have made demoralizing assertions which fail to stand up to Chesterton's robust and serene assertion: 'The family is a cell of resistance to oppression.' This aspect of the family does not seem to be very clearly perceived by the theorists. I asked the Holy Father what he thought about this.
"Chesterton's words are beautiful. Beautiful and true. Moreover, they are shrewd- and demanding. For the family to be, as he asserts, 'a cell of resistance to oppression', it must be a community of great maturity and depth. When I say, 'it must,' I mean that a moral obligation subsists. To speak of the family as a 'cell of resistance to oppression' is to indicate it's moral value and at the same time to define its proper structure- and in the last analysis to rely upon the spiritual maturity of the persons involved. When this is missing, the man or the woman is liable to see in their indissoluble union only a a constraint to be broken.
The family- much more than any other social community- has an essentially personal structure. Each of its members has his own importance, not owing to any given function, or to the resources he procures or anything else, but simply because he exists, because he is a 'person', because he is 'this particular person'. That is why the family, more than any other form of human contract, deserves the magnificent description of a 'communion of persons', which indicates the depth and intensity of the mutual relations, as well as the depth and strength of the resulting interpersonal ties. If in a family (supposing that it is morally mature) each member, and therefore each individual, has his own importance, this cannot create a climate of individualism- nothing is less characteristic of a family that develops healthily. The fact that man has an existence 'for himself' obliges him to live also 'for others', as we read in the beautiful words of Gaudium et Spes: 'Man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.' Thus the 'communion of persons' is much more than a bond between people; it signifies existence, life, action based on the principle of reciprocal giving- the reciprocal gift of humanity.
In a family, every being is important because of what he is, because he exists. The gift of humanity from each to each is, so to speak, the starting point in the family, and also its duty. The more each member of a family knows how to live for others, the clearer it is that for this family that member is important because he exists and because of what he is. Even when it cannot be said that 'he knows how to live for others', the fact remains that he belongs to the family and that he counts because he exists, he counts for what he is, even though in that case he is causing suffering- which itself demonstrates this truth. It is less obvious in communities which take a more 'neutral' stance, which are less sensitive to the human person. Some years ago I wrote a little treatise on the family as a 'communion of persons', largely inspired by the passage in Gaudium et Spes which I have just quoted."