Catholic bishops on family

25 Oct, 2015 - 00:10 0 Views
Catholic bishops on family

The Sunday Mail

THE Catholic Bishops of Africa and Madagascar recently presented a position paper to the three week long Synod on Family held in Rome.
The bishops who were represented through a continental body, Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) tabled a paper which highlights the challenges haunting the family in a contemporary world.
We produce excerpts of the paper.
The Family and
the Anthropological
One cannot but give thanks to God for the reality of family in today’s Africa and in the world. Indeed, the family remains, and is, the basic cell of the society and the Church. Notwithstanding the difficult situations in which she finds herself, it is within the Church that the family,couples, men, women, and children, deeply experience and faithfully live their faith and all the values emanating from it. Their testimony is a fruit of divine grace and also a light in the darkness which needs to be rekindled for the future of humanity.
In this context, we affirm with Pope Francis that, “the Church is conscious of the need to offer a word of truth and hope.” Also, the great challenges of marriage invite us to decipher the advent of a Kairos, which is to invest in this time of blessing and trial, in the light of the gospel of the “Word made flesh;” to rethink and rebuild the family,while listening to its sufferings and its real expectations. We are all called upon as Bishops, priests, pastors, consecrated people and all other messengers of the Gospel, to promote an organic pastoral solidarity.
Our mission is to become the salt of the earth, and light of the world (Mt 5:13-16), in the face of socio-cultural changes facing us, so that we can be a sign of hope for the family in the contemporary world. Within such a complex reality facing the family today, how do we as agents of evangelisation respond to our mission to serve the pastoral needs of families according to the mind of God who has sent us on a mission?
Studies of cultural anthropology from several African nations have proved that Africans attach great importance to the family.
They reaffirm what many Africans today already embrace, that the family is a social and divine institution which expresses deep human relationship and intimate encounters, constitutive of both the identity of the individual and the community. The awareness of the significant value of community and its intrinsic relation to the identity and the fulfilment of the individual, is particularly of capital importance to a given group or family.
Thus, crisis within the family have adverse effects on the Church and society in Africa, as well as on individual identity and commitment to achieving one’s vocation and mission in life.
The family which, as usual, cannot be reduced to the father, mother and children (nuclear family) in Africa and Madagascar, is increasingly marked by new forms of individualism and indifferentism, and the impacts of a “culture centred on amassing possessions and enjoyment.”
As a result, we are witnessing in the continent several cases of broken relationships among couples, spouses, and children,even among families united together by historical bonds of solidarity. Nuclear families that no longer have the support of the large family often break up their marital bond due to isolation.
In the same way, young people who do not truly nourish their lives at the sources of the great African family values, have difficulty engaging in lifelong commitment, either in marriage or in themselves to the service of the Church and the society. There is an increasing challenge facing young people, who once married, will find it difficult to maintain a stable family life. This consequently, can predispose them to divorce.
We witness many cases of injured, separated, divorced and broken families. This situation is made worse by the economic and political problems, some of which are due to failures in assuming our pastoral responsibilities and others caused by the adverse effects of a global economic disparity between the rich and the poor.
Consequently, we find ourselves within the context of “social contradictions and family’s weakening”
To be continued.

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