Pope: Church must offer support to those hurt by divorce and abortion

 "Divorce and abortion are decisions that are sometimes undertaken in difficult circumstances, they often bring trauma and are causes of deep suffering for those who make them, " Benedict XVI said during an audience held on April 5 with participants from the International Congress organized by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and the Knights of Columbus. The conference was called: "Oil on the Wounds: A Response to the Aftermath of Abortion and Divorce." The Pope said he was glad to see the reference made to the parable of the Good Samaritan that was chosen be the Congress' organizers as the model in treating "the wounds of abortion and divorce that cause great suffering in the lives of individuals, families, and society." The Holy Father also pointed out that "men and women nowadays often find themselves wounded and naked along the roads of life. Oftentimes, there is no one to hear their call for help and come to accompany them in their suffering, to console them and heal them. In the midst of an oftentimes purely ideological debate, a sort of taboo is created towards them. Only in the attitude of merciful love can we draw near and bring succor and allow the victims to stand up and return to the journey of existence." In his address, Benedict XVI said: "the ethical stance of the Church on divorce and abortion is clear and known by all: they are grave sins that, in various degrees and keeping in mind the judgements of subjective responsibilities, wound the dignity of the human person, imply a profound injustice in human and social relationships, and that offend God Himself who is the guarantor of the marriage covenant and author of life. However, the Church, following the example of her divine Master, always deals with concrete persons, above all those who are most weak and innocent, who are victims of injustices and sins, and also those other men and women, who, having done such things, are marked by sin and carry interior wounds, and seek peace and the possibility of recovery." It is precisely towards these persons that "the Church has the primary duty of approaching these persons with love and delicacy, with maternal care and attention, to announce the merciful nearness of God in Jesus Christ," the Pope emphasized, recalling that according to the Church Fathers, Christ Himself, "the true Good Samaritan, who has become our neighbor, who pours oil and wine on our wounds and who brings us to the inn, the Church, in which he cares for us, entrusting us to her ministers and paying in person beforehand for our healing." He also mentioned "the gospel of life and of love that is also the gospel of mercy, offered to every man, sinners as we are, in order to pick us up from our every fall and in order to heal our every wound." In starting from God's mercy, the Church "fosters an immense confidence in man and in his capacity to once again get back up on his feet. She knows that, with the help of grace, human freedom is capable of the definitive and faithful gift of self, that makes the marriage of a man and a woman possible as an indissoluble pact, that even in the most difficult circumstances human freedom is capable of extraordinary acts of sacrifice and solidarity to welcome the life of a new human being. Thus, we can see that the Church's 'no' in her moral guidelines and that are often presented to the public eye in an unilateral form, are really a great 'yes' to the dignity of the human person, his life, and his capacity to love." Making reference to some of the reflections made during the Congress, the Pope recalled "the sufferings, sometimes traumatizing, that affect the so-called 'children of divorce,' that can even make their path in life much more difficult," and he called for a special "support and pastoral attention" so that the children "may not be innocent victims of the conflicts between divorced parents." The drama of deliberate abortion "leaves deep wounds...in the women who have an abortion and the people involved and produces devastating effects on the family and society, as well as for the materialist mentality characterized by a lack of respect for life and favors abortion." In regards to this situation, Benedict XVI quoted the encyclical Evangelium vitae that exhorts women who have had abortions not to be overcome by despair and not to loose hope, but instead reach an understanding of what has occurred and interpret it in all its truth (cf. no. 99). Lastly, Benedict XVI showed his appreciation for all the pastoral and social initiatives "dedicated to the reconciliation and care of those wounded by the drama of abortion and divorce," and affirmed that, along with many other forms of commitment, "they are essential elements for the building of the civilization of love that today more than ever is in need of humanity." Source: Fides

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