Pope says family separation can be ‘morally necessary’

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis said Wednesday that it may be “morally necessary” for some families to split up, marking a change of tone in the Catholic Church’s attitude to troubled marriages.

“There are cases in which separation is inevitable,” he said during his weekly general audience, with a message hoping to encourage greater compassion in the Church ahead of a highly anticipated global meeting on family life in October.

“Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it’s about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from the more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation,” he said.

Francis said there were many families in “irregular situations” and the question should be how to best help them, and “how to accompany them so that the child does not become daddy or mummy’s hostage”.

The issue is likely to be addressed during the upcoming synod — a gathering of bishops — on the family, which Francis hopes will help reconcile Catholic thinking with the realities of believers’ lives in the early 21st century.

A first synod on the issues last year saw riled conservative bishops mobilise to block the approval of language heralding an unprecedented opening to the gay community and greater flexibility on the treatment of divorced Catholics.

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  • amador kester

    The pontiff may be right here on some principles of freedom and responsibility of individuals.But what if young kids that still need parental love and care are caught in between?where wiill the responsibility lie if ever? Problem is that some fanatical catholics may mistake the popes statement for licence for reckless, unmitigated divorce.To be fanatically understood sometimes holds as much confusion or contradiction as to be vaguely misunderstood.In such rare cases silence could be an option to allow individuals handle such issues on case study basis rather than outright generalization.However where serious violence is concerned divorce may become an openly advocated option if spiritual intervention fails

  • enyiduru

    This is not a change. The Catechism of the Catholic Church point 1649 published in 1994 and revised in 2008 (Pontificate of St JohnPaul II) states that the church permits separation in situations in which living together becomes practically impossible.