Honour parents even with their imperfections :Pope Francis

“Honouring parents leads to a long happy life,” said Pope Francis during Wednesday’s general audience, pointing out that the word “happiness” in the Ten Commandments appears only in relation to parents.  In fact, the fourth commandment a  promise – “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Through the help of human sciences, the Pope said, we are able to understand whether someone has grown up in a healthy and balanced environment or has experienced abandonment or violence in childhood. 

Imperfect parents

The Holy Father said that the fourth commandment does not require mothers and fathers to be perfect, and speaks about the children’s duty regardless of their parents’ merits.  Even if not all parents are good and not every childhood is happy, all children can be happy, because the achievement of a full and happy life depends on being grateful to those who have given birth.

Model saints

Regarding this, the Pope pointed to several examples of saints and Christians who despite a painful childhood have lived a “luminous life”, thanks to Jesus Christ, they have reconciled with life. One such example is the 19-year old Italian Nunzio Sulprizio, who will be declared a saint next month.  He died reconciled with much pain and many things, because his heart was serene and he never denied his parents.  

Saint Camillus de Lellis who built a life of love and service from a disorderly childhood; Saint Josephine Bakhita was raised in horrible slavery; Blessed Carlo Gnocchi was orphaned and poor; and Saint John Paul II lost his mother at an early age.

Born again

Whatever be a man’s past, the Pope said, the fourth commandment gives us the orientation that leads to Christ in whom the true Father is manifested who invites us to "be born again from on high".  Hence the “enigmas of our lives are enlightened when we discover that God has always prepared us for a life as His children, where every act is a mission received from Him." 

Through grace our wounds gain power to discover that the true enigma is no longer "why", but "for whom?"  Thus everything is reversed and becomes precious and constructive.

In the light of love, our sad and painful experience becomes a source of health for others.  Hence we can begin honouring our parents with the freedom of adult children and with a merciful acceptance of their limits.

Insult, never

In conclusion, Pope Francis urged Christians to visit their parents in their old age, and never insult them with ugly and abusive words, including the parents of others, because they have given life.

Pope to Workers Assoc: Solidarity promotes the common good

Every minute, somewhere in the world, two people die as a result of a work-related accident. Statistics published by the International Labour Organization estimate that, every year, over 2 million women and men succumb to work-related fatalities or diseases. And the number of occupational accidents that leave workers either partially injured or permanently disabled, is in the hundreds of millions.

Particular suffering

On Thursday morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis met with members of the Italian Association for Injured Workers. He praised the Association for its efforts to support both the victims of accidents at work and their families. He also acknowledged how “those who have undergone permanent and debilitating injuries at work experience particular suffering, especially when their disability prevents them from continuing to work and provide for themselves and their loved ones. To all of them I express my closeness”, he added.

Solidarity versus Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity can be defined as taking decisions at a level where they can have the greatest effect, rather than depending on a central authority to make those decisions. “Solidarity”, said Pope Francis, “is always combined with subsidiarity, which is its completion, so that everyone is allowed to offer their contribution to the common good”. The Pope went on to quote from the social teaching of the Catholic Church which, he said, “constantly recalls this balance between solidarity and subsidiarity”. We must ensure, he said, that “on the one hand, solidarity is never lacking and, on the other, solidarity is not limited to making passive those who can still make an important contribution to the world”.

People versus Good

Pope Francis went on to reflect on the need to overcome what he called “the fallacious and harmful equivalence between work and productivity, which leads to measuring the value of people on the basis of the quantity of goods or wealth they produce, reducing them to a cogwheel in a system”. This perverse perception, he said, “contains within itself the seed of exploitation and subjugation, and is rooted in a utilitarian concept of the human person”.

We need to “open our eyes”, said Pope Francis, and recognize that those we see before us are not commodities, but people: “brothers and sisters in humanity”.