Francis urges all women who suffer violence to remember that they have suffered humiliation, but their dignity is still and always intact.
“The problem of violence against women is almost satanic,” Pope Francis said in a Christmas program dedicated to the “invisible” people in today’s society, broadcast by Italian television Mediaset on December 19, 2021. “The number of women who are beaten, abused at home, even by their husbands, is so great,” he lamented.
For nearly an hour, the program showed the Pontiff in dialogue with four “invisibles” welcomed into his home in the Residence of St. Martha in the Vatican. Among them were a prisoner condemned to life in prison, a young student demoralized by the pandemic, a homeless woman, and a mother.
During the conversation between the Pontiff and his guests, the mother told of losing her job and her home to protect herself and her children from her husband’s violence. Turning to the Pope, she asked how she could regain her dignity after that. “It’s humiliating, very humiliating,” the head of the Catholic Church acknowledged, assuring her that she retained all her dignity.
“For me, [domestic abuse] is almost satanic because it is taking advantage of a person who cannot defend herself, who can only [try to] block the blows,” he said.
The example of the Pietà
The Pontiff gave her the example of Raphael’s famous sculpture of the Virgin Mary in the Pietà. Mary, he pointed out, is at the foot of the Cross, “totally humiliated,” holding the remains of her son in her arms.
“But she has not lost her dignity,” the Pope insists, urging women who suffer and feel humiliated to contemplate this maternal “image of courage.”
“Never slap a child”
The Holy Father also spoke about treating children with dignity.
“It is humiliating when a father or mother slaps a child in the face,” Pope Francis also said. “Never slap a child in the face,” he urged, “because dignity is the face.”