June 24, 2015, Wednesday — Pope Francis on the Wounds in Families

“But do we still 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?” —Pope Francis, today in St. Peter’s Square during his remarks at his General Audience

The Pope’s General Audience Address Today in St. Peter’s Square

“The wounds of the family”

Following his recent catechesis on external threats to the family, such as poverty and illness, during today’s general audience the Pope spoke about the wounds members of families can cause to one another, especially to children.

In all families there are moments of discord, but when harmful words, acts and indifference are aggravated and transformed into arrogance, hostility and contempt, they can cause deep lacerations, dividing husband and wife and inducing them to seek understanding, support and consolation elsewhere, he said.

“But often, these forms of support do not think of the good of the family,” he said. “And frequently the effects of separation have an impact on the children.”

“But do we still know what a wound to the soul is?” he asked. “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? When adults lose their heads… 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.”

“In the family, everything is interconnected: when its soul is wounded at some point, the infection spreads throughout,” he said.

“Husband and wife are one flesh,” emphasized the Pope. “But their children 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.”

The Holy Father also spoke about those cases in which separation may be morally necessary “to remove the weaker spouse, or young children, from the wounds caused by arrogance and violence, debasement and exploitation, estrangement and indifference.”

However, he said, there is no lack of those who, thanks to God, “supported by faith and love for their children, bear witness to their faithfulness in a bond in which they have believed, however impossible it may seem to revive it. Not all separated people have this vocation, though. Not all recognize, in their solitude, the Lord’s call to them.”

And so, he said, “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.”

Note: For those who would like to travel with us on pilgrimage:

(1) In mid-July 2015, we will take a completely unique pilgrimage with a small group of our readers. This is our annual “Urbi et Orbi” pilgrimage to Russia, Turkey and the Vatican. I will travel along with the group. We will visit eastern Orthodox leaders, shrines and monasteries, and then we will talk with Vatican officials about ecumenical relations between Catholics and Orthodox; there is no pilgrimage in the world similar to this pilgrimage;

(2) On December 8, 2015, and again on November 20, 2016, we will be gathering in Rome to be present when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door to begin his Special Jubilee of Mercy, and when he closes the door to end the Jubilee Year. If you would like to join us on one or more of these pilgrimages, email now for more information…

We also often travel to Norcia, in central Italy, where there is a flourishing Benedictine monastery we visit.

We keep all of these pilgrimages small. Please contact us if you would like your name to be placed on a waiting list, to hold your spot.

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What is the glory of God?

The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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