Pope Francis Says Sometimes “Separation Is Inevitable” and “Morally Necessary” to Protect Children

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis said Wednesday (June 24) that there are times when it is “morally necessary” for couples to separate, as part of the pontiff’s broader reflection on how to protect children from quarreling parents.

Speaking to crowds in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said that in some cases “separation is inevitable” and “can even become morally necessary” at times.

The pontiff was clear in specifying the extreme cases in which he saw family breakdown as justifiable: “when it comes to saving the weaker spouse, or young children, from more serious injuries caused by intimidation and violence, by humiliation and exploitation, by lack of involvement and indifference.”

His comments came as part of a wide reflection on conflicts within families — “the most ugly thing!” — during which he focused on the lifelong damage wrought on children whose parents fight.

“When the father and mother harm each other, children’s souls suffer greatly, feeling a sense of desperation. And they are wounds that leave a lifelong mark,” the pope said.

Francis warned parents that showering their children with gifts to apologize for their quarreling would not solve their problems and risked further harming the family. “The more one looks to compensate with presents and candy, the more the sense of injury is lost — more painful and deeply — to the soul,” he said.

The pope called on Catholics to recognize families suffering from internal strife and offer support: “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?”

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Rosie Scammell