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Title: La célébration du mariage dit «chrétien» dans l'Église catholique en Afrique
Author(s): KABWIT, Jean-Desiré
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 16    Issue: 1   Date: 2010   
Pages: 34-47
DOI: 10.2143/INT.16.1.2056195

Abstract :
In sub-Saharan Africa, the Catholic Church has introduced theological concepts and canonical practices that fail to take into account the cultural aspects of African Christians. It concerns the reduction of the foundation and the indissolubility of marriage to the consenting of the partners alone, contrary to African practise, which bases marriage on a dual consent: that of the engaged couple and that of their respective families. Additionally, the Church considers customary African marriage as cohabitation, thus submitting Christian couples to a successive triple celebration of the same marriage: customary, civil and Christian. However, the majority of African Christians remain convinced that their customary marriage is valid and in no way at variance with to the so-called 'Christian' marriage. Consequently, the latter is only celebrated in order to obtain permission to participate in the sacraments of confession and communion, or to avoid problems with or to please those who expect this conformity. The article puts forward a redefinition of the indissolubility of marriage considered in the African context. Drawing inspiration from the Civil Code’s regulations on the Congolese family, which recognizes the validity of the customary marriage fulfilled in the presence of an officer of the civil State, the author proposes a like practise for the minister of the sacrament of marriage, who could testify to a dual consent of the couple and of the family during the ceremony of the predowry. A subsequent Church ceremony should be left to the free choice of the couple. The new procedure here recommended, creates the opportunity for recognizing the validity of the customary marriage, which highlights the dual consent and permits the families to enter into their role of protection and reinforcement of the family institution, thus sparing them in this way from the anguish of such situations as divorce.

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