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Pope's letter advises those married suffering through COVID-19

Pope's letter advises those married suffering through COVID-19
Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi on Christmas Day at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Pope Francis penned a letter providing advice and encouragement to married couples and their families suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic.

He encouraged married couples to remember to engage in "mutual forgiveness" which "heals all wounds" after encountering conflict and noted that young, engaged couples have had trouble planning their futures together because of the "difficulty of finding stable employment."

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"Now that the labor market is even more insecure, I urge engaged couples not to feel discouraged," Francis wrote. "Do not hesitate to rely on your families and friends, on the ecclesial community, on your parish, to help you prepare for marriage and family life."

The letter comes halfway through a yearlong celebration honoring families that Francis announced in May called Amoris Laetitia Family Year. It was released Sunday to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family -- a Catholic festival honoring Jesus, Mary, and Joseph on the first Sunday after Christmas.

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"Families have always been in my thoughts and prayers, but especially so during the pandemic, which has severely tested everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us," Francis wrote. "The present situation has made me want to accompany with humility, affection and openness each individual, married couple and family in all those situations in which you find yourselves."

Francis wrote that in the past two years of the pandemic, families have suffered through "uncertainty, loneliness, the loss of loved ones" and been forced to leave behind "comfort zones" to work to benefit "society as a whole."

"For some couples, the enforced living conditions during the quarantine were particularly difficult. Pre-existing problems were aggravated, creating conflicts that in some cases became almost unbearable," he wrote. "Many even experienced the breakup of a relationship."

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The pontiff added that "the breakdown of a marriage causes immense suffering" particularly for children who "end up having to suffer the pain of seeing their parents no longer together." He encouraged parents with marital problems to "keep seeking help" to overcome conflicts.

According to Vatican News, which is funded by the Holy See, Francis spoke at his studio window Sunday to pilgrims who had gathered outside in St. Peter's Square about the topic of family while encouraging couples to always "make peace" before going to sleep. He said that familial conflicts can "fester" and lead to "physical and moral violence" if couples do not make an effort to resolve issues before bed, according to Vatican News.

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In his letter, Francis wrote that lockdown measures have provided families the opportunity to strengthen communication - a practice that comes with an "exercise of patience." He encouraged families to work to become each other's "refuge amid the storms."

"It is not easy to be together all day long, when everyone has to work, study, recreate and rest in the same house. Don't let tiredness get the better of you," Francis wrote.

Francis ended his letter by encouraging grandparents and grandchildren to spend time together after elderly people were left feeling "isolated and alone" during lockdown restrictions.

"Families greatly need grandparents, for they are humanity's living memory," Francis wrote.

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