Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Religious freedom is a human right" reiterated Pope Francis today at the end of the general audience. He also called for prayer for persecuted Christians - "martyrs", victims of an "unacceptable crime" – as part of the Pentecost prayer vigil being organized by the Italian bishops and the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China on 24 May , feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, China.
"We too - he added – must ask Mary to help Catholics in China to be more credible witnesses of this merciful love in the midst of their people and to live spiritually united to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built."
Previously, Francis had dedicated his catechesis to the family’s "natural vocation to educate" urging fathers and mothers to return from their "self-exile" from education that has seen them being replaced by "experts" and "intellectuals" and instead to resume their role, which it is difficult and requires patience, especially if the parents are separated. "They may have experienced difficulties, have separated and often the child is taken hostage and the dad speaks ill of the mother and the mother speaks evil of father and this hurts so much. So I say to you, who are separated: never, never, never use your child as a hostage! You are separated because of so many difficulties and reasons. Life has given you this test but that your children are not the ones who should bear the brunt of this separation, your children should not be used as hostages against the other spouse, your children should grow up hearing the mother speak well of the father, although they are not together, and that the father speaks well of the mother. This is very important for separated marriages, it is also very difficult, but you can do it".
The pope spoke of what he considers "a key issue of the family" that is, its educational role, to the 35 thousand people present in St Peter's Square for the general audience. "Intellectual 'critics' of all kinds – he noted - have silenced parents in many ways, to protect the young generation from the damage - real or imagined - of family education. The family has been accused, among other things, of authoritarianism, cronyism, of conformism, of emotional repression that generates conflicts. In fact, a rift has opened up between the family and society, between the family and school, today the educational pact has broken down and so, the educational alliance between the family and society is in crisis because mutual trust has been undermined. There are symptoms For example, in the school the relationship between parents and teachers has been affected. Sometimes there are tensions and mistrust; and of course the consequences are visited upon the children. On the other hand, the number of so-called 'experts' is increasing, who occupy the role of parents even in the most intimate aspects of education. The emotional life, personality and development, rights and duties, the 'experts' know everything: goals, motivations, techniques. And parents need only listen, learn and adapt. Deprived of their role, they often become over-burdened and possessive of their children, to the point that they never correct them. " "They tend to trust more and more to the 'experts', even for the most sensitive and personal aspects of their lives, putting themselves in the corner; and so parents are at risk of self-exclusion from the lives of their children. And this is very serious. "
"How did we get to this point? There is no doubt that parents, or rather, certain educational models of the past had some limitations. There is no doubt! But it is also true that there are mistakes that only parents are allowed to make, because they can compensate in a way that is impossible for anyone else. On the other hand, as we well know, life has become stingy with time to talk, reflect, discuss. Many parents are 'taken up’ with work, Mom and Dad have to work, and other concerns, embarrassed by the new needs of the children and the complexity of modern life ". "The problem, however, is not just talking. Indeed, superficial dialogue does not lead to a real meeting of minds and hearts. Instead we should ask ourselves: do we try to understand 'where' the children really are on their journey? Where their soul really is, do we know? And above all, do we want to know? These are some questions. "
Christian communities, said the Pope, "are called to offer support to the educational mission of the family, and they do it first of all with the light of God's Word. The apostle Paul reminds the reciprocity of duties between parents and children:" You Children, obey your parents in everything; for this pleases the Lord. Parents, do not provoke your children, lest they be discouraged. " Behind it all there is love, what God gives us, that "do not disrespect, do not seek your own interests, do not be angry, make no account of a wrong suffered ... bears all things, believes in all things, hope in all things , endure all things". Even the best families have to put up with each other, and it takes a lot of patience. "
"Again, may the grace of Christ’s love bring to fruition what is inscribed in human nature. How many wonderful examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that good family education is the backbone of humanism. Its radiation is the social resource that allows you to make up for gaps, the wounds, the breaches of parenthood that affect less fortunate children. This radiation can do real miracles. And in the Church these miracles happen every day! I hope - concluded the Pope - that God gift to Christian families faith, freedom and courage needed for their mission. If family education finds the pride of its leadership, many things will change for the better, for uncertain parents and disappointed children. And now may fathers and mothers return from their exile, because they have exiled themselves from the education of their children, and once again take on their full educational role".