(Vatican Radio) In his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis focused on the role of parents in the education of their children, which he called "an essential characteristic" of the family.
The Holy Father noted the many difficulties facing parents today, especially those who find themselves in difficult situations. He spoke especially about the difficulties of separated couples, calling on them to "never, never, never take the children hostage!"
He spoke out strongly against "intellectual critics" who have "silenced" parents in order to defend younger generations from real or imagined harm. This has opened up a fracture between families and societies, leading to a crisis in the relationship between families and society. So-called experts have often taken the place of parents, depriving them of their proper place in the education of their own children, "even in the most delicate and personal aspects of their lives." Parents often are afraid to correct their children, leaving it instead to experts. Pope Francis recalled an episode from his own life, when he had said a bad word to his teacher, and his mother had come to the school to make him apologize to the teacher - and then corrected him when he got home. This wouldn't happen today, where too often a teacher who tried to discipline a child would be criticized by the child's parents.
The rupture between parents and other educators can lead parents to exclude themselves from the education of their children. "It is evident that this approach is not good," the Pope said. "It is not harmonious, it is not dialogical, and rather than favouring the collaboration between families and other educational agents, it opposes them to one another."
Christian communities, on the other hand, "are called to offer support for the educational mission of families - and they do so above all with the light of the Word of God." Pope Francis noted how the relations between parents and children, described by St Paul, are rooted in love, which is the gift of God. "Even in the best families there is need of support, and great patience," he said.
Pope Francis said that the grace of Christ brings to completion what is written in human nature. The many examples of the wisdom of Christian parents show that good family education is the backbone of a healthy society. He prayed, "May the Lord grant to Christian families the faith, the liberty, and the courage necessary for their mission!"
Below, please find the English-language summary of the Pope's catechesis during the weekly General Audience:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, today we consider the vocation of families to educate their children, to raise them in the profound human values which are the backbone of a healthy society. This educational mission, essential as it is, nowadays encounters a variety of difficulties. Parents spend less time with their children and schools are often more influential than families in shaping the thinking and values of the young. Yet the relationship between family and school ought to be harmonious.
Our children need sure guidance in the process of growing in responsibility for themselves and others. Christian communities are called to support the educational mission of families. They do this above all by living in fidelity to God's world, cultivating faith, love and patience. Jesus himself was raised in a family; when he tells us that all who hear the word of God and obey are his brothers and sisters, he reminds us that for all their failings, our families can count on his inspiration and grace in the difficult but rewarding vocation of educating their children.