An online news website in Italy published a story about Pope Francis meeting with a group of women who are separated or divorced.
Obviously, I don't know these women and whether a number of them are remaining faithful to marriage after separation or divorce. But the article mentions only the opposite.
It emphasized that the women were looking for a second chance. One participant said, "The Pope insists on praying for our former husbands."
For those who are wrongfully abandoned, using the phrase "former husband" means that you are not married and the person to whom you promised to be married is not your husband. However, marriages don't end just because parties are separated or divorced. That is as ridiculous as saying the mother-son relationship ends because the son moved out of state.
It is telling that Pope Francis uses the language of the secular culture. For Catholics, there is no such thing as a former husband, unless he's died and a woman has remarried. A man is either a woman's husband from whom she is separated or divorced, OR the man was never the husband because the marriage was null (invalid).
Furthermore, the article showed the Pope's answer to a question, “How can we raise our children without discrediting their father?" The Pope replied, “Never use children as a weapon in the fight.”
For those who are wrongfully abandoned, "never use children as a weapon" is code for "Don't let your children know that Dad did anything wrong by breaking up the family. Act like marital abandonment is normal and OK."
If a husband was locking children needlessly in a dark closet, would the Pope tell their mothers to never use the children as a pawn? After all, it would be giving the children a negative view of their father if Mom were to tell the children "it is wrong for Dad to lock you in the dark closet." When abandoned spouses are under some kind of gag-order preventing them from teaching their children that abandonment is wrong, the children grow up disillusioned.
They know their split family causes much pain, but everyone around them acts like it is a normal, fair, and just occurrence. These children are being taught to leave their own marriage whenever they feel like it, because no one will tell them otherwise.
The article said the Pope invited them to, "help other people who suffered a separation and encourage them to move forward."
For those who are wrongfully abandoned, "move forward" is code for: Act like you are single again; try to find a soul mate in another spouse.
The article mentioned nothing about how the participants are still truly married. The government doesn't marry parties and the government divorce can't un-marry them. Nor did the article mention the possibility that some of the participants may have been women who wrongfully abandoned their husband for soft reasons that did not justify separation.
The article did mention the need for forgiveness, to which I wholeheartedly agree!
In the United States, spouses who are wrongfully abandoned face the challenge that no one from the Church will inform the abandoner of his obligations to uphold the marriage promises.
Spero News columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates.