Be kind to your mother-in-law, often the victim of “cliches”, Pope Francis has urged Catholics.
Devoting his general audience to the relationship between generations, the Pope, 85, said: “I’m not saying we see her as the devil, but she is always presented in a pejorative way. But the mother-in-law is the mother of your husband and the mother of your wife.”
He also urged daughter-in-laws to take care of their relationships with their mother-in-laws.
“They gave birth to your spouse,” he told the assembled crowds in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday. “At least make them happy.”
He also had advice for mothers-in-law themselves: “Be careful how you express yourselves.”
It is not the first time he has touched on the subject. In 2015, Pope Francis sparked laughter on a visit to the US when he told a crowd: “Families quarrel and sometimes plates can fly and children bring headaches, and I won’t speak about mother-in-laws.”
He held his general audience at the Vatican a day after a flare-up of knee pain forced him to cancel all activities.
The pontiff walked slowly and with a pronounced limp while holding the arm of an aide to his seat.
“I apologise because I will greet you while seated. The healing of this knee seems to be never-ending and I can’t stand for long periods,” he said at the end of the audience, before people he would normally go to greet came to him instead.
Persistent pain in his right knee has curtailed his activities in recent months. Francis also suffers from sciatica, which causes pain in the legs.
During the address, he also called for prayers for an end to the war in Ukraine, which he has condemned since Russia launched its invasion.
“May the weapons fall silent, so that those who have the power to stop the war hear the cry for peace coming from all of humanity,” he said.