The natural law, together with fundamental rights, is the source from which ethical imperatives also flow, which it is only right to honour.
In today’s ethics and philosophy of Law, petitions of juridical positivism are widespread. As a result, legislation often becomes only a compromise between different interests: seeking to transform private interests or wishes into law that conflict with the duties deriving from social responsibility.
In this situation it is opportune to recall that every juridical methodology, be it on the local or international level, ultimately draws its legitimacy from its rooting in the natural law, in the ethical message inscribed in the actual human being.
Natural law is, definitively, the only valid bulwark against the arbitrary power or the deception of ideological manipulation. The knowledge of this law inscribed on the heart of man increases with the progress of the moral conscience.
The first duty for all, and particularly for those with public responsibility, must therefore be to promote the maturation of the moral conscience. This is the fundamental progress without which all other progress proves non-authentic.
The law inscribed in our nature is the true guarantee offered to everyone in order to be able to live in freedom and to be respected in their own dignity.
What has been said up to this point has very concrete applications if one refers to the family, that is, to “the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state… established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 48).
Concerning this, the Second Vatican Council has opportunely recalled that the institution of marriage has been “confirmed by the divine law”, and therefore “this sacred bond… for the good of the partner, of the children and of society no longer depends on human decision alone” (ibid.).
Therefore, no law made by man can override the norm written by the Creator without society becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children and rendering the future of society precarious. — from the pope’s address to the International Congress on Natural Moral Law (2007)