Pubblichiamo l'intervento di mons. Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel, arcivescovo metropolita di Addis Abeba e presidente della Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA), pronunciato durante l’Ottava Congregazione Generale del Sinodo dei vescovi, giovedì 9 ottobre scorso (http://amecea.blogspot.it/).
The Pastoral Challenges of the Family
External Pressures on the Family
Instrumentum Laboris Nos. 70 – 75
I speak on behalf of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) whose chairman I have been elected by my brother bishops in our Plenary in Malawi in July 2014. AMECEA is a regional association which comprises of eleven countries in Eastern African and the Horn of Africa, together with Djibouti and Somalia as affiliated members.
In these countries, God is the source of all life. Therefore all love life. Families are the source of life and, as such, need to be loved and respected. Motherhood is God’s gift to humanity. Children are therefore great gifts to be cherished.
What distinguishes Catholic families is that their marriage, once blessed by the sacrament of matrimony, is indissoluble. This is both a source of spiritual pride and, at the same time, a source of anxiety to remain faithful to the marriage bond.
The pastoral challenges that face the Catholic families are:
1) Poverty: material poverty forces husbands or wives to migrate within countries or go to neighbouring countries or abroad, especially in the Arab world. This creates cracks in the marriage bond.
2) Migration is also linked to trafficking and also dispersion of children, who most of the time spill over to become street children and prone to be trafficked and abused.
3) HIV AIDS: a disease which creates division in the family and frequently divorce. Usually, both parents are affected and, sometimes both die, leaving children under the care of grandparents.
In order to strengthen Catholic families in the region, the positive elements of traditional African family values ( e.g. respect for life, love of children, respect of mothers, right influence of the extended family, respect for elders, etc.) need to be taught in schools, in parishes, and in institutions. Nowadays, because of the onslaught of the mass media and internet technology, our positive traditional values are being eroded and being replaced by cheap ones from elsewhere.
For example, the phenomenon of homosexuality and same-sex unions are being tried to be imposed in our region as elements of “human rights”. Some organizations and funding agencies are threatening the region that unless these “human rights” are accepted, they will not give funds or will withdraw funds. The answer in the region to such statements is “Keep your funds and money; we do not want them”. Our poverty does not mean that we have no dignity. God will provide.
Many AMECEA martyrs died refusing to give in to homosexual acts and opposing those who promoted it. They remained faithful to the teachings of the pioneer missionaries who evangelized them. They did not die in vain !
The greatest gift which the Catholic Church and its Magisterium can give to our region is to remain faithful to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ that true marriage is between a man and a woman, blessed by the sacrament of matrimony. We shall continue to pray for Catholic families. In spite of the many challenges and difficulties of married life, there is also joy and happiness in Catholic families. There are saints in family life: grandparents, parents, children, and even unborn children.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and for ever!
+Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel CM
Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba
President of the CBCE & Chairman of AMECEA
Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Vatican
October 5th – 19th, 2014.