Pope Francis: Protect Marriage to Not 'Scandalize the Little Ones'

During General Audience, Speaks on Wounds Within Families

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Reaffirming the value of marriage, Pope Francis has spoken about the sufferings within families and how this can take a toll on children.

Continuing his catecheses on the family during his weekly General Audience address this morning in St. Peter’s Square,  the Holy Father focused on a condition common to all families: wounds.

Saying these wounds are the worst thing, the Pope said, «We speak often of behavioral problems, mental health, well-being of the child, anxiety of parents and children … But we still know there is a wound in the soul. We feel the weight of the mountain that crushes the soul of a child, in families where there is hurt and we hurt.»

We know well, the Argentine Pope told those gathered, that all families suffer moments when one of its member offends another.  

Through our words, actions, or ‘lack of action’, Francis highlighted, sometimes we can diminish love among family members. 

The Holy Father warned that hiding actions that hurts loved ones only deepens the wounds, often resulting in anger and tension. If they become deep enough, he acknowledged how sometimes spouses search elsewhere for understanding. 

«When these wounds, which are still remediable, are neglected, they get worse: they turn into arrogance, hostility, contempt. And then they can become deep lacerations, dividing husbands and wives, and lead us to look elsewhere for understanding, support and consolation. But often these «supports» do not think of the good of the family!» Francis said.

This, Pope Francis stressed, destroys the family and leads to the suffering of children. He reminded the parents that as one flesh, any wounds the parents suffer, their children suffer too.

Recalling Matthew’s Gospel in which Jesus warned adults not to scandalize little ones, the Pope underscored how the faithful must maintain and protect the bond of marriage. He called on Christians to realize the impact that wrong choices can have on the spirit of children. 

While admitting that wounds may lead some to separate, the Holy Father said we thank God for the many that–sustained by their faith and love for their children–stay together and remain true to their conjugal bond.

For those who enter into so-called irregular situations, the Pope said, we must reflect on how best to help and accompany them in their lives. «Around us,» Francis observed, «there are several families in so-called irregular situations. I do not like that word … And we ask ourselves many questions: How to help? How to accompany them?» 

The Holy Father concluded, praying for the Lord to strengthen the faith of all Christians «to look at reality through the eyes of God» and «with great charity, to approach people with her merciful heart.»

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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