Good weather returned to Rome, and it brought large crowds to the Pope's general audience on Wednesday.
Moving among the thousands of pilgrims, the Pope heard a unique sound in St. Peter's Square. And just moments before he delivered his catechesis, he discovered where the music was coming from.
Pope Francis reflected on the challenges of raising children and how hard it is to find balance between affection and authority. He said that some situations are harder than others.
"It is even harder for separated parents, who are weighed down by their situation. FLASH. They have struggled, have been separated and many times the child becomes a hostage. The father speaks ill of the mother and the mother speaks ill of the father. And a lot of damage is done.”
Not included was a condemnation of their status as separated parents. Instead, he talked about the children and how to care for their emotional needs in complicated situations like this.
"To you, separated couples, I advise: Never, never, never, take your child hostage. You are separated by so many difficulties and life has tested you. But children should not carry of the burden of your separation.”
According to the Pope, it is necessary for parents to play a role in educating their children. They must assume most of the responsibility of intellectual formation, and not pass it off to teachers or other educational professionals.
"Deprived of their role, parents feel guilty and become possessive in their relationship with their children, to the point of never correcting them. Increasingly, they tend to entrust their children to experts. Even with the most sensitive and personal aspects of life, they get out of the way. And so parents are likely to opt out of their children's lives, and this is very serious.”
After the audience, Pope Francis repeated his call for religious freedom. He recalled that next Sunday is the day of prayer for Catholics in China, and on Saturday night Italian bishops convened a prayer vigil for persecuted Christians worldwide. The Pope said that the persecution of Christians is a great tragedy in our time and an unacceptable crime.