Catholic families need more from Pope Francis (COMMENTARY)

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A woman breastfeeds her child as Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass in Saint Peter Square at the Vatican on March 19, 2013. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito 
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WELDON-OPED, originally transmitted on April 11, 2016.

A woman breastfeeds her child as Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural mass in Saint Peter Square at the Vatican on March 19, 2013. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WELDON-OPED, originally transmitted on April 11, 2016.

I was sitting in one of the front wooden pews of St. Vincent Ferrer Church, armed with a bag of children’s books and Power Ranger toys. The effort was ambitious — taking three sons under age 7 to an hour-long Sunday Mass — but it was important to me as a single mother in the mid-1990s to indoctrinate them as Catholics in the habit of weekly Mass.

I wanted for them the joy of community and to have fond memories of church for as far back as they could remember. Sunday Mass was where I sat beside my own mother, who often promised to take us all to Baker’s Square for pancakes after mass. I wanted to create traditions like that — if the boys could last until the priest’s declaration, “Mass is ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

Midway through 9 a.m. Mass, Father from the pulpit was delivering a homily. He was a fire and brimstone brand of priest. I was hoping the explosion sounds my oldest son was making to accompany his action figure tableau would not disturb the concentration of other parishioners in our row.

“Divorce is selfish,” the elderly priest declared, his face contorted in disdain. “It is a sin to create broken families.”

I could feel the heat rise on the back of my neck and my face flush. I wanted to scream. There was nothing selfish about my divorcing an abusive husband, the father to my sons. It was a brave act. And we were not broken. We were healing.

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  • patrick

    “ — taking three sons under age 7….to indoctrinate them as Catholics in the habit of weekly Mass. “

    “ Indoctrinate “ ? Three kids under age 7 ?

    A huge – HUGE – heap of shame on you. You were obviously indoctrinated as a child, and found it your obligation to do the same.

    An abused child becomes an abusive parent. An indoctrinated child becomes a doctrinaire parent. In either case it is the innocent who is scarred – potentially permanently.

    Why do religiously brainwashed parents subject their children to the same. Why aren’t children allowed to find/form their own philosophy of life, after exploring the philosophy of others. That is a horrible cruelty.

    Religion is a mind-prison where children are condemned to do penance for the sins of the parents.

    Tragic….

  • Betty Clermont

    Weldon did not read the document if she thinks “The Joy of Love,” has “a softened approach to divorce and remarriage.” The pope clearly stated he was changing no doctrine and that the divorced and civilly remarried were still barred from receiving communion and that same-sex marriage was forbidden. While stating those in “irregular” relationships should be “welcomed”, how they are actually treated in their parishes is left to the discretion of the pastors and bishops.

  • Pablo

    Why are atheists so nasty in the way they express their views? Oh, wait. I just answered my own question.

  • Pablo

    No, you should read it. Pope Francis has opened the door to clergy bending the “rules” of the Church when by doing so they can reach more closely to expressing God’s mercy. A mercy which is all too rarely shown by those more concerned with being “right” than following Christ.

  • Debbo

    Patrick, an abused child Does Not become an abusive parent. The overwhelming majority of people who’ve been abused Do Not abuse others. That’s a fallacy based on conflating 2 different things.

    While it is true that most abusive people were abused, the inverse in Not True. Most people who were abused do not themselves become abusive.

    Also Patrick, to my knowledge this is also untrue: “An indoctrinated child becomes a doctrinaire parent.”

    What is the source of information for the claims you’ve made?

  • Jonnee Kohler

    as Steve Martin sang: “Atheists don’t have no songs” Defending his Bluegrass songs to his Hollywood fans. See youtube for the melody. Steep Rangers. Also no religious art. but who is counting.