The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference held recently, in the capital Accra, was inspired by the extraordinary synod of Bishops on the family which took place in Rome during the month of October, this year. The Ghana meeting of the Bishops had as its theme, “The Pastoral challenges of the family in the contest of Evangelisation.”
At the end of the meeting, the 19 Bishops concluded proceedings with a Eucharistic celebration at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra that was presided-over by the Bishop of Konongo -Mampong Diocese, Joseph Osei Bonsu, who is also President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference. Many of Accra’s lay faithful, priests and the religions took part in the Eucharistic celebration .
In a communiqué read at the Mass, Bishop Osei Bonsu spoke about the Church`s teaching on the family. He asked Christians to value family life as sacred. Christians, he said, should also hold firmly onto instruction from scripture, especially the indissolubility of marriage.
Using the first African Synod document, “Ecclesia in Africa,” the Bishops in their communiqué remind the faithful that the African person cherishes the family as the fundamental base for humanity and society. The Church in Africa should aim at building-up her members to uphold Christian as well as good African values.
Referring to the important teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which affirmed that that Evangelisation usually first takes place in the family and that parents by word and example are the first heralds of the faith, the communiqué urges parents to assist their children make right choices.
In their communiqué, the Bishops identify pressure of work, childlessness , dominating one`s spouse in marriage, polygamy, cohabitation, concubinage and huge amounts demanded for dowry as among some of the challenges facing marriage and family life in Ghana.
In Their pastoral recommendations for marriage and family life, the shepherds of Ghana`s Catholic faithful appealed to all who are called to marriage life to prepare themselves adequately. The Bishops have called on the National Catechetical Commission to develop a structured and sustained programme for on-going formation that will target prospective couples as well for those already married.
The Bishops of Ghana further say that the formation of a Christian family movement to champion Christian marriage should be supported. They have also proposed that annually a week dedicated to the family be celebrated in Ghana. The “family week” to be celebrated annually would be observed by all.
Another timely reminder from the Bishops is directed at priests and the religious. The Bishops remind them that home visitation to families is part of their ordinary pastoral duties and should not be neglected.
Parishes and dioceses should additionally create occasions for the unmarried, especially the youth to come together for retreats , workshops and other avenues to prepare them for their life`s vocations.
(by John Kumado in Ghana)