A communique issued at the end of the Diocesan Pastoral Congress of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria held at St. Bakhita Catholic Secretariat, 7–8th December 2021.
We the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto at the end of our first Pastoral Congress having prayerfully reflected on issues affecting the Church and the family, observe the following:
- The Collapse of Family Values
It is clear that “the family more than any institution has been besieged by the many profound and rapid changes that have affected society and culture. Many families are living this situation in fidelity to those values that constitute the foundation of the institution of the family. Others have become uncertain and bewildered over their role or even doubtful and almost unaware of the ultimate meaning and truth of conjugal and family life.”
3.0 The state of the family in recent times
Today, the family and the Church are under attack, ranging from single parenthood, test-tube babies, pornography, open homosexuality, indoctrination of youth, redefinition of marriage, divorces, contraception, legalized abortion, etc., are reshaping the traditional understanding of what the family ought to be.
- The Divine Mandate
“Male and female, he created them” (Gen. 2:18). Given the Divine mandate, the Church cannot be silent in the face of these distorting realities. The Mission of the Church is rooted in the divine mandate (Mt. 28:19-20). Therefore, the Church in her response to these invites all the baptized (the mystical body of Christ) to participate in witnessing to the family values. Moral authority is crucial for good governance and the proper ordering of family values.
5.0 The Roles of Pastoral Agents
Pastoral agents have the responsibility to restore family values. They should not be scared of checking on and supporting families when the need arises to enable them to rise above the challenges confronting them, such as the role of mentoring, assisting those you are preparing for marriage, single parents, marriages in difficulties, children of delinquent parents, children of those discriminated, assisting young couples who find themselves in the context of these challenges. Therefore, the Church should come up with programmes that would assist families, reinforce the marriage preparation programme and lay apostolate associations in the Church should conscientize their members on the need to be closer to their children and be interested in what they do while growing up. The family institution should regenerate itself with a proper commitment by spouses reorienting their children.
We, therefore, resolve as follows:
- Pastoral Agents must be involved in marriage preparations and engage the intending couples in active parish life, as a key to set in place remedial actions to get the faithful on track and prepare them for marriage life, as opposed to mere wedding preparations.
- All parishes must have a mentoring programme for young couples and follow them up in the early years of their marriage.
- Parishes must develop parish-based ministries to deal with all the key elements of marriage preparations.
- The clergy must foster discussions concerning difficulties that may arise in marriage preparations or later in married life, such as alcoholism, molestation, cultural differences, divorce, etc.
- Young couples should learn to accept willingly and make good use of generous offers from other more experienced couples in marriage and family life.
- The family as an institution should be able to regenerate itself if they are open and willing to accept corrections and learn from the experiences of more experienced couples.
- As a domestic Church, families should ensure that they teach children from the cradle, making sure that they learn and keep Church values and principles in their various stages of development.
- Catholic families are encouraged to ensure that they send their children to Catholic educational institutions where Catholic Christian moral values are thought.
- Couples should not seed their parental responsibilities to house helps.
- Pious societies in the Church must live up to their obligations as places where Christian values are inculcated, as against mere social gatherings.
- Conclusion: Be Prayerful and Remain Focused
As we conclude the year of St. Joseph, on this day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we resolve to emulate the Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph. We give thanks to God for keeping us together as a Church. As Christians, we must be prayerful and remain focused. We must continue to pray to God to help us remain faithful to our Christian values.
Rev. Msgr. Dr. J. C. Atado Very Fr. Cornelius Tagwai
Vicar General, Pastoral Chancellor
Most Rev. Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto