Amoris Laetitia 246: Support for Children

amoris laetitia memeThe Church faces a difficult, yet sometimes self-imposed shackle when dealing with children who have experienced “irregular” situations in their parents’ marriages, unions or other choices. Some pastors vacate the opportunity, denying student placement or sacraments. It’s a telling move because it sets up Church membership or school enrollment as a reward for good behavior. The reality is that any person who has any sort of contact with the Church or its institutions is an opportunity for ministry, not membership cards.

246. The Church, while appreciating the situations of conflict that are part of marriage, cannot fail to speak out on behalf of those who are most vulnerable: the children who often suffer in silence. Today, “despite our seemingly evolved sensibilities and all our refined psychological analyses, I ask myself if we are not becoming numb to the hurt in children’s souls… Do we feel the immense psychological burden borne by children in families where the members mistreat and hurt one another, to the point of breaking the bonds of marital fidelity?”(Catechesis (24 June 2015))

For some Catholics, the answer is, “No, we do not feel the burden. We are uncomfortable with it, and think more of our own problems.”

The Church cannot abandon parents who have divorced and remarried:

Such harmful experiences do not help children to grow in the maturity needed to make definitive commitments. For this reason, Christian communities must not abandon divorced parents who have entered a new union, but should include and support them in their efforts to bring up their children. “How can we encourage those parents to do everything possible to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of committed and practical faith, if we keep them at arm’s length from the life of the community, as if they were somehow excommunicated? We must keep from acting in a way that adds even more to the burdens that children in these situations already have to bear!”(Catechesis (5 August 2015))

Pope Francis asked this question, and then proceeds to answer:

Helping heal the wounds of parents and supporting them spiritually is also beneficial for children, who need the familiar face of the Church to see them through this traumatic experience. Divorce is an evil and the increasing number of divorces is very troubling. Hence, our most important pastoral task with regard to families is to strengthen their love, helping to heal wounds and working to prevent the spread of this drama of our times.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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