During his weekly address, Pope Francis admitted that there are situations where a married couple’s separation might become “inevitable” or even “morally necessarily,” especially if the situation involves domestic abuse.

That’s according to the Associated Press:

“There are cases in which separation is inevitable. Sometimes it can become even morally necessary, precisely when it comes to subtracting the weaker spouse, or small children, from more serious injuries caused by arrogance and violence, by humiliation and exploitation ... and by indifference,” the pope said, at his weekly general audience.

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The remarks came in the context of a longer talk about marriage and family, in which he encouraged parents to consider the ramifications of a souring marriage on their children. According to the Catholic News Service:

“When adults lose their heads, when each person thinks of themselves, when dad and mom hurt each other,” children suffer greatly and “experience a sense of desperation,” he said.

These wounds “leave their mark for life” and “many times children hide to cry by themselves,” he said....

“Husband and wife are one flesh. Their children are flesh of their flesh,” he said. Consequently, all of the spouses’ “hurts and abandonments ... are engraved into the living flesh of their children,” he said.

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Pope Francis has been tackling these sorts of family matters in advance of a synod scheduled for October, which will address thorny issues faced by the church and the modern Catholic family. For instance: There are a whole lot of divorced Catholics, but the church technically does not fuck with your civil split.

Quite obviously the Pope isn’t embracing no-fault divorces that cite irreconcilable differences, and would presumably prefer couples to bend over backwards to patch things up. He also spoke well of those who separate from their spouses but steer clear of new relationships. From the Catholic News Service again:

“There is no lack, thank God, of those who, although separated, sustained by faith and love for their children, witness to their faithfulness to a bond in which they believed, insofar as it seems impossible to revive it,” he said.

“Not all separated spouses, however, feel this vocation,” he said. “Not everyone recognizes, in [their] solitude, a call of the Lord addressed to them.”

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But his remarks are a notable departure, and if this message helps people walk away from abusive situations, that’s certainly a positive thing.

“Let us ask the Lord for a strong faith to see with his eyes the reality of family life, and for a deep love to approach all families with his merciful heart,” Francis added.


Contact the author at kelly@jezebel.com.

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