During his weekly Wednesday audience, Pope Francis spoke about the “suffering” of parents who have children with “diverse sexual orientation.”
“How to address this, how to accompany the children without hiding behind a condemning attitude,” Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks.
He was speaking about the Gospel story of Joseph’s dreams, in which an archangel told him that the Virgin Mary was pregnant and later that they should flee to Egypt, and when it was safe to return home with Jesus.
Last November, Francis began dedicating his weekly Wednesday audience to reflecting on St. Joseph, whose life of faith the pope said offers a special example during a time of a global pandemic. He had declared 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph.
Fear, Francis said, is a part of everyone’s life, and he added the power of prayer can combat that fear.
“When the Lord shows us a problem or reveals a problem, he always gives us the insight, the help, his presence, to get out of it, to solve it,” the pope said.
During his remarks, he dedicated an entire passage to the “so many people who are crushed by the weight of life and can no longer hope or pray. May St. Joseph help them to open up to dialogue with God, to find light, strength and help.”
“I am also thinking of parents faced with their children’s problems,” Francis said. “Children with many illnesses, sick children, even with permanent illnesses: how much pain there is. Parents who see different sexual orientations in their children; how manage this and accompany the children without hiding behind a condemning attitude.”
The pope continued speaking about parents who see their children leaving, dying, because of an illness, and kids who do “things of youth” and end up in a car accident. Francis listed many other “parental problems,” including children who don’t advance in school.
“Let’s think about how to help them,” Francis said. “And to these parents I say, don’t be scared. Yes, there is pain. A lot of it. But think about how Joseph solved the problems and ask Joseph to help you. Never condemn a child.”
Referring to his former archdiocese, the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, he remembered when he’d pass a prison while riding on a bus and see the many parents lined up to visit their children.
“Faced with the problem of a son who had made a mistake, who was in prison, they didn’t leave him alone, they put their faces to it and accompanied him,” he said.
The pope said never leaving one’s children alone, despite the challenges, takes courage.
At the end of his audience, Francis reiterated his call for prayers for peace in Ukraine.
On Sunday, at the end of the Angelus prayer, he announced that Jan. 26 would be a world day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, currently under the threat of a Russian invasion.
“They are a suffering people,” Francis said, referring to Ukraine. “They have suffered hunger, they have suffered so much cruelty and they deserve peace.”
“May the prayers and invocations that are being raised today up to heaven touch the minds and hearts of those responsible on earth,” he continued.
“Please, never war,” Francis said.
Francis skipped the usual personal greetings of people after the audience, citing an “inflammation” of his right knee. Joking with those present, the 85-year-old pontiff said that it’s “a passing thing,” that reportedly only happens to old people: “I don’t know why it happened to me!”
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