VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Attacks on marriage and the family in Africa can be characterized as a “ferocious onslaught,” according to the relator-general of the synod under way at the Vatican.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, mentioned this onslaught during the “Relatio post disceptationem” (Report After the Discussion) on Tuesday afternoon. His report is a 23-section analysis that gathered the fruits of the 195 interventions given thus far.
Benedict XVI was present to hear the report.
“Many synod fathers bemoaned the fate of the family in Africa: ‘the destruction of an authentic idea of marriage and the notion of a sound family,'” the cardinal summarized.
He said the synod participants have designated the institution “under serious threat of instability and dissolution,” due to factors such as poverty, conflicts, so-called traditional beliefs and practices, including witchcraft, and disease, particularly malaria and AIDS.
“But the synod fathers,” Cardinal Turkson continued, “also described in various ways a ferocious onslaught on the family and the related fundamental institution of marriage from outside Africa and attributed it to diverse sources.”
The cardinal listed sources in three categories: ideological, clinical and emerging “alternative” lifestyles. Particularly, he pointed to gender ideology, a new “global sexual ethic,” genetic engineering, “Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Health Education,” sterilization and “same-sex marriages.”
Cardinal Turkson reported that the synod fathers have given the Church in Africa the priority of rehabilitating the African family in “its dignity and vocation.”
“All African cultures hold the family in great esteem and so, for good reason, the Church in Africa defines herself as ‘Church-Family of God,’ an expression consecrated by the previous synod but which would be further enriched in giving the ‘Family’ a solid Christian anthropological foundation, better able to manifest its identity and open itself to the dimension of the universal Church,” he said.
The cardinal noted how the synod fathers “vigorously denounced the ideology and international programs which are imposed on African countries under false pretexts or as conditions for development assistance.”
“They are harmful for the family,” he affirmed. And he said that “competent persons” must be trained and enabled to “form Catholic family associations and other lay movements which defend the interests of the family and engage in public discussion.”
The synod relator-general urged forming seminarians and religious “in order to discover, evaluate and prevent whatever risk or danger” threatening the family.
“Finally,” the cardinal concluded, “there is the urgent need to re-define the family as the ‘domestic Church’ and the primary place for education in love, reconciliation, justice and peace. In this way, Christian families would become the solid foundation of vibrant ecclesial communities that would in turn form ‘family communities’ into true schools of evangelization.
“The apostolate of the family must integrate and embrace these elements.”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text of the “Relatio post disceptationem”: www.zenit.org/article-27196?l=english