Maputo, Mozambique, 28 – 31 May 2015
War and economic pressures are two of the biggest threats to family life, Bishops from across Africa and Europe heard at a joint meeting in Mozambique last week.
Twenty-two bishops from across Europe and Africa came together in Mozambique at the end of May to share and reflect on their ministry with families. The bishops met in Mumemo, a settlement outside the capital Maputo, which was formed by Franciscan Hospitaler sisters of the Immaculate Conception to house victims of the catastrophic floods back in 2000.
The sisters eventually rehoused around 17,000 people, complete with schools, a clinic and orphanage.
The bishops gathered to celebrate the vitality of family life, especially in Africa, to look at how to support families and to analyse the many tests faced by couples trying to sustain their commitment to each other.
The meeting is part of a series held between SECAM, which represents African bishops and CCEE, its European counterpart.
The gathering was an opportunity for the bishops of both continents to examine, in the light of the forthcoming Synod on the Family, what sustains or undermines contemporary marriage.
Those challenges include the economic pressures that families face in both continents, the impact of war, environmental disasters, HIV/AIDS, polygamy, the growth of sects, the problems facing migrant families, modern slavery and human trafficking.
There was also discussion about the influence of international NGOs, the responsibilities of states and the way in which contemporary culture can undermine commitment and fidelity. Special attention was given to the pastoral and doctrinal responses possible for divorced Catholics.
Salome and Frederick Olweny, a Kenyan couple involved in the Africa Family Life Federation, shared their experiences of married life and outlined the Federation’s programmes on marriage preparation (pictured with Bishop Lang).
Bishop Lang was also in Mozambique to develop closer collaboration with the Mozambique Bishops’ Conference. He met with Bishop Adriano Langa of Inhambane, his counterpart in Mozambique, to look at migration, human trafficking, justice and peace and the work of CAFOD.