By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 January, 2015
Pope Francis strongly defended the Church’s teaching on marriage and contraception in an address to families in the Philippines on Friday.
In his talk, the Pontiff said “The pressures on family life today are many.”
While many families are battling poverty, others are “caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality.”
Elsewhere, the Pope warned that “The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage,” and he hit out at “the new ideological colonisation that tries to destroy the family”.
The comments are being interpreted as expressing his concern over the push for same-sex marriage in a number of countries around the country and in those countries where it has already been accepted.
The Pope also praised Pope Paul VI for resisting pressures to accept contraception saying, “Paul VI was courageous, a good pastor, and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching.”
He said Humane Vitae was an encyclical which foresaw the negative consequences of birth control and “the problem it could cause families in the future.”
“Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats!” the Pope told the assembled Filipino families.
He encouraged them to develop active lives of prayer, “resting in the Lord,” in order to build up strength to protect family life.
Separately, Pope Francis paid an unscheduled visit to a home caring for 320 boys and girls who were formerly street children and are now looked after at the Blessed Charles de Foucauld Home for Girls, which is run by the Tulay Ng Kabataan foundation.
According to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pope Francis became emotional during the visit and when the children came up to touch and hug him, the Pope whispered to the cardinal that it was clear they yearned for a loving human touch, “the touch of a parent.”
Ahead of his visit, there were reports of street children being thrown into detention centres by the authorities in order to clear the streets of Manila.
The MailOnline website reported that hundreds of children had been rounded up from doorways and roadsides by police in recent weeks and held in detention centres where they slept on concrete floors and in some cases, were starved and chained to pillars.
Irish missionary Fr Shay Cullen, who runs the Preda children’s home in Subic Bay and campaigns against child trafficking and abuse, told the website of his concerns for the detained children.
“They have no basic rights. There is no education. There is no entertainment. There is no proper human development. There is nowhere to eat and they sleep on a concrete floor. There is no proper judicial process.”
“These kids are totally without protection. They have no legal representation. They are just put in jail and left to fend for themselves.”
He said the detention centres were “a shame on the nation,” and said he hoped Francis would speak up for children’s rights while he was in the Philippines.