On August 2015 from Manila, The Philippines, Pope Francis addressed a weeping mother, “You respected the life you were carrying inside you, and God is going to reward you for that and he does reward you for that. Don’t be ashamed… I know that people can sometimes look askance at you…You’re a brave woman because you’re capable of bringing these two daughters into the world.” Francis added, “I congratulate you.” The mother to whom he was speaking is a single parent.
It’s a sensitive subject within the Catholic Church, where the impetus is to encourage the security of the traditional family structure and the inherent sanctity of marriage. And rightly so: the nuclear family is a foundational block. Third-wave feminism has sought to negate/diminish the role of men and fathers in society, with the illusion that women can do it all. It is not the truth: the balance between male and female and the different psychological approaches are necessary for the developing child. To wish a single mom, ‘Happy Father’s Day’, as is popular now, buys into that artifice.
In the zeal, however, to revitalise the traditional family structure within the Church community, one group remains on the peripheries and invisible in Church outreach: the single parent. Very few people choose to be a single parent at the onset (although there is a growing cadre of professional women who are choosing that route). Different circumstances can result in that end, and not all of them as a result of ‘carelessness’, ‘bad behaviour’, or ‘immorality’.