Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family, shifting from a focus on external threats to the family, such as poverty and illness, to those that come within, and addressed those situations when it becomes impossible for couples to remain together.
According to The Vatican Information Service, the pope began by saying that all families experience moments of discord, but when harmful words and actions are ignored, they can become aggravated and result in arrogance and hostility, perhaps even contempt for one another. Consequently, spouses can seek understanding and support elsewhere, leading to separation from the family.
“But often, these forms of support do not think of the good of the family. … And frequently the effects of separation have an impact on the children,” the pope said.
“Do we know what a wound to the soul is? Do we feel the weight of the mountain that crushes the soul of a child, in families in which the members treat each other badly and harm each other, to the point of breaking the bonds of conjugal trust?” asked the Pope. “When adults lose their head … when the father and mother harm each other, the soul of the child suffers greatly, feeling a sense of desperation. And they are wounds that leave a lifelong mark.”
Everything in the family is interconnected, he continued and when the soul of the family is wounded, at some point, the injury spreads throughout the home.
“Husband and wife are one flesh”, emphasized the Pope, “But their creatures are flesh of their flesh. If we think of the severity with which Jesus warns adults not to offend the little ones, we can also better understand his word on the grave responsibility of safeguarding the conjugal bond that is at the origin of the human family. When a man and a woman become one flesh, all the wounds and neglect of the father and mother are brought to bear on the living flesh of the children.”
There are, however, cases when separation is inevitable and indeed morally necessary “to remove the weaker spouse, or young children, from the wounds caused by arrogance and violence, debasement and exploitation, estrangement and indifference.”
Many others persevere, supported by faith and love for their children, in spite of how impossible it seems to revive the union.
“Not all separated people have this vocation, though. Not all recognize, in their solitude, the Lord’s call to them. We find many families in irregular situations around us. And this poses many questions: how can we help them? How can we accompany them? How can we accompany them so the children do not become hostages to their father or mother?”
The Pope concluded his catechesis by asking the Lord for “great faith, to look upon reality through the eyes of God; and great charity, to be near to people with a merciful heart.”
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