Catholic World News

Pope laments absence of fathers from families

January 28, 2015

Stating that the absence of fathers can produce “wounds which may be very serious,” Pope Francis devoted his January 28 general audience to fatherhood.

The word “Father,” he said, is particularly dear to Christians because Jesus taught us to use it in our prayer. “The blessed mystery of the intimacy of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the heart of our Christian faith.”

Fatherhood is a “foundational relationship whose reality is as old as the history of man,” Pope Francis continued. In Western culture, the modern “society without fathers” was “first perceived as a liberation: liberation from the father-master.”

While an “authoritarianism” that is “overpowering” and treats children as “servants” is not good, the Pope stated, neither is the absence of fathers.

“Fathers often so concentrate on themselves and on their work and sometimes on their individual accomplishments, that they forget even their family,” he said.

Lamenting the absence of fathers, the Pope said that “the deviances of children and adolescents can be largely attributed to this lack.”

Fathers also fall short when they forget they are fathers and instead strive to be companions who are “on par” with their children, he continued. Fathers are called to fulfill an educational task: by word and example, they should offer principles, values, and rules of life that children need, just as they need food.

Civil society, too, has a fatherly task, but it has left children orphans who dream of entertainment and pleasures, who “are deluded by the god of money and denied true riches.”

The Pope concluded by stating he would reflect on the beauty of fatherhood in his February 3 audience.


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  • Posted by: schndj2254 - Feb. 06, 2015 3:22 PM ET USA

    It's hard to argue with anything Pope Francis asserts in this homily. I would also point to him, if I could, that many of us in the Church are lamenting the absence of faithful pastor/fathers. I for one am tired of pseudo-modern theo-babble and another class of Teilhard de Chardin or even worse, the Gospelof Thomas, Mary, or other heretical, I'm not kidding. At best, it could be called spiritual abuse. Let's address this "fatherlessness" Holy Father!!

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Jan. 29, 2015 7:45 AM ET USA

    I sometimes wonder if the Pope understands that the absence of fathers has something to do with the feminization of the Church, which he either denies or ignores. In America, in Europe, and elsewhere, parishes are increasingly controlled or dominated by their women members, with the result that few men are willing to participate in parish activities. These men are reluctant to find their place in the Church or to follow its teachings on what it means to be a father.

  • Posted by: Elan - Jan. 28, 2015 9:12 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis just cannot win. Does the Holy Father have to cover every possible cause and effect in every statement he makes? Is it really a failure on his part? Maybe the comment should state "I would add..." Are there not enough people to erode the pastoral power of the papacy that we should add to their voices? I pray that our Father in heaven draw our pope ever so close to himself, that he might fulfill his calling. Amen.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jan. 28, 2015 2:08 PM ET USA

    Although it is encouraging that Francis speaks to the problem of fatherhood today, he fails to mention the primary causes of the problem of literal or figurative fatherlessness—the welfare state and radical feminism. The former makes fathers economically irrelevant and it subsidizes fornication; the latter makes men irrelevant to fulfillment in females and the formation of families.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jan. 28, 2015 11:45 AM ET USA

    These are very needed and welcome words from the Holy Father. This is a great crisis that largely in my view has been ignored in the Church. Usually you hear agendas and concerns about women but the crisis of fathers, men and boys and the Faith is not being addressed and this has affected vocations to the priesthood. St. Joseph pray for the Holy Father. Pray for us.