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Title: Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelisation
Subtitle: Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference (South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland)
Author(s): MUNRO, Alison
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 20    Issue: 1   Date: 2014   
Pages: 101-105
DOI: 10.2143/INT.20.1.3036701

Abstract :
Responses to the questionnaire were received from twenty four of the twenty nine dioceses of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), covering South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana. The seriousness of those who answered the questionnaire, bishops, lay people, married couples, parish pastoral councils, family movements, sodalities and clergy, was evident in the responses provided. Despite time constraints, and the summer holiday period in Southern Africa, the overall participation was impressive. Reflection and engagement took place in a variety of forms from parish to parish, mostly done by the pastoral councils of parishes. Some dioceses hosted meetings of those involved in the family apostolate to attend to the questionnaire. The major concerns to emerge are those related to an understanding of what constitutes a family; pastoral care for those in irregular marriages; learnings from indigenous cultural practices; catechetics and ongoing formation; and the realities of the socio-economic context. The survey provided an honest account of family life in the region; people highlighted joys and hopes as well as challenges and frustrations experienced in trying to live out their faith. There were different perspectives and emphases, but nothing not yet known. There is a wide variety in people’s experience of family life. The number of ‘typical’ families is declining. People value family life greatly, and they are trying hard to keep their families together despite challenging circumstances. They are looking to the Church for direction and support, mindful that much needs to be done by themselves, within their own homes and communities. Bishops have long expressed concern about family life, as have delegates in various pastoral consultations of the SACBC. A much needed process and response will require the commitment and collaboration of all, bishops and laity alike, so that we can reclaim the home and family as the 'domestic Church'. The results of the survey have led the bishops to consider how better to respond to the pastoral challenges faced by families in the region. There is a need for greater catechetics and a renewed focus on pastoral care. The bishops have resolved to make family life one of the focus areas in the region for the next three years.

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