Council of Italian Bishops Endorses Shared Parenting After Divorce

May Reflect the Views of the Pope

Boston, Massachusetts, UNITED STATES

BOSTON, Jan. 15, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- National Parents Organization welcomes the stunning news that the Council of Italian Bishops (Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, or CEI) has endorsed shared parenting after divorce or separation, based on a full-page spread that appeared in its official newspaper, Avvenire ("Future") on the Sunday before Christmas. The article was written by the Chief Editor of Avvenire, Luciano Moia. The article urges family courts to not only state support for shared parenting, but to also ensure the arrangement actually occurs in practice. Also, the article was supportive of legislative efforts that encourage shared parenting.

Many Church observers believe that Avvenire would not publish anything known to contradict the views of the Pope on a sensitive subject.

While research favoring the two-parent solution is now overwhelming, this is the first time a major religious body has taken a stance on shared parenting - where children spend as close to equal time as possible with both parents after divorce or separation.

"This article follows a series of statements by Pope Francis over the last year emphasizing the critical importance of two parents for children, and specifically of the father, because of the problem of fatherlessness," said Dr. Ned Holstein, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. "This is an additional reason to believe that the December 20, 2015 article in Avvenire reflects the vision of the Pope. Given the historical reluctance of the Church to involve itself in matters of divorce, this is a striking development."

In November, 2014, Pope Francis said that children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, according to the Catholic News Agency. According to Catholic Radio, in January, 2015, Pope Francis "called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children," and said that "fathers are necessary as examples and guides of our children … " In June, 2015, the Catholic Herald paraphrased the Pope as follows: "Even if couples are unable to live together, the Pope said, they must find a way to work together harmoniously. And if they get to the point where 'separation seems inevitable,' he said, 'know that the Church holds you in its heart and that your educating role does not end: you are and will always be dad and mum.' "

In a sidebar to the recent main article, Avvenire pointed approvingly to the December conference of the International Council on Shared Parenting in Bonn, Germany, which National Parents Organization helped organize. It also reported approvingly on the shared parenting advocacy of Italian pediatrician Dr. Vittorio Vezzetti, who has been instrumental in working with the Church, and on the resolution passed in October by the Council of Europe calling for shared parenting legislation in the EU member states.

Sharing of parenting time after separation or divorce remains an unusual family court result. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, shared parenting occurs less than 20 percent of the time when parents divorce or separate.

"National Parents Organization greatly appreciates the weight of a voice as prominent as the Catholic Church. I hope that family courts and legislative leaders throughout the United States will follow the Catholic Church's lead and resolve to support the best interests of children by backing shared parenting in 2016," Dr. Holstein said.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state's child support guidelines.
A graduate of Harvard College, Holstein also earned a Master's degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he serves on the faculty.
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child's strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at


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