BY CAROL GLATZ
MANY CHILDREN raised by cohabitating, separated, divorced or remarried parents are deprived of fixed points of reference and can suffer from inner conflict and confusion, Pope Benedict XVI has told Brazilian bishops.
The traditional family based on a man and woman united in an indissoluble marriage is under attack in today’s world, he said.
“There are forces and voices in present society that seem committed to demolishing the natural homestead of human life,” the Pope said during a meeting last week with bishops from the northeastern area of Brazil.
Families in secularised cultures, especially where divorce is legal, seem deeply immersed in uncertainty, he said. More and more couples build their unions on the fragility and impermanence of cohabitation, which is merely based on an “individual’s feeling or subjectivity” he added.
He said as divorces increase and cohabitation is on the rise, the children in these situations are “deprived of their parents’ support and become victims of malaise and abandonment, thus spreading social disorder”.
Children need concrete fixed points of reference such as having one set of parents who will always be united as a family, the Pope said. He said divorce is sabotaging the traditional sense of an extended family by creating too many “parents”, such as stepmothers and stepfathers.
In fact, the majority of children today “who feel like they are orphans are not children without parents, but children who have too many parents”, he said.
This situation of a child caught between the different expectations and mixed messages of too many step-parents “cannot help but create inner conflicts and confusion” within the child, he said.
The Church must reach out to families and help them base their union on a solid Christian foundation and help them resist becoming “deceived and seduced by certain relativistic lifestyles promoted by films, television and other media outlets”, he said.
Pope Benedict also warned the bishops of the “irregular and dangerous situation” of divorced and remarried Catholics. Only the first marriage exists, he said, “there is no husband and wife in a second marriage”, rather they are a man and woman living in adultery.
Re-married couples must resolve their situation by seeking the help of a priest who can help all the people involved, he added.
The bishops were meeting with Pope Benedict and Vatican officials for their ad limina visits.