MESSAGE OF THE BISHOPS OF CAMEROON
On the occasion of the 40th Seminar
Held in Mamfe from 07 to 14 January 2017
To the People of God in Cameroon;
To all persons of good will
May the Grace, Love and Peace of the Lord be with you, members of the Church, the family of God Cameroon!
- We, the Bishops of Cameroon, gathered together in Mamfe for our 40th Seminar, address this message to you on the joy of love, a joy which, lived in families, is also the joy of the Church. (Amoris Laetitia No.1).
- After the two Synods of Bishops held in Rome in 2014 and 2015 on “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization”, Pope Francis gave the Universal Church, on 19 March 2016, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: AMORIS LAETITIA.
This exhortation highlights the pastoral attitude to adopt in the face of the many challenges confronting the family today.
Among these challenges are: the attack on the dignity of Christian marriage; the weakening of love between spouses; the growth of single-parent families; the promotion of “gender ideology”, which risks putting men and women in conflict; the distortion of human love; the promotion of same-sex marriages, the legalization of the destruction of the family, the commercialization of the female body, divorce and remarriage, the legalization of abortion, etc.
- Faced with these challenges, we invite you, following Pope Francis, to a true path of conversion in the context of the New Evangelization. This implies on the part of pastors an attitude of welcome, discernment and accompaniment of fragile individuals and families. It is no longer a question of presenting rules and regulations, but:
– To propose to you values and offer couples motivation for this courageous and lasting stake that marriage is. (Amoris Laetitia No. 201);
– To approach families with a humble understanding, and to accompany them so that they can discover the best way to overcome the difficulties that they encounter daily. (Amoris Laetitia No. 200).
“To find the right language, arguments and forms of witness that can help us reach the hearts of young people, appealing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage” (Amoris Laetitia No. 40).
- Concretely, we commit ourselves in each of our particular Churches to reinstating the family at the heart of our pastoral care by reorganizing the preparation for marriage and the accompaniment of couples during and after the celebration of the sacrament.
The preparation of fiancés for Christian marriage will henceforth be done through the structure of an interdisciplinary team for the pastoral care of the family, composed of well-prepared priests, lay persons and couples, at the levels of basic Christian communities, mission stations, parishes, deaneries and dioceses. The experience of the Pastoral Institutes shall be of great help here.
- Within the framework of this pastoral task of closeness, the Church in Cameroon is aware of the values embedded in our cultures about marriage and the family that should be respected in accordance with the Gospel. This same attention will be directed towards cases of great delicateness such as: the divorced and remarried, women in distress, orphans, etc.by setting up, for example, structures of Counseling.
We admit that the service of accompanying couples after marriage has been inadequate. But with the advent of Amoris Laetitia, this post-sacramental accompaniment becomes urgency and a pastoral priority today. We will therefore seize all the opportunities offered by the life of the Church, such as recollections, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, baptisms, death celebrations, etc.(Amoris Laetitia No. 208) in order to consolidate the newlyweds in their matrimonial commitments.
In this respect, we will incorporate these orientations into the National Directory for Pastoral Care of the Family that is being revised and in the Pastoral Plans being drawn up in our dioceses.
- Finally, we recommend that you welcome Church Teaching on Marriage and the Family as the application of Divine Teaching and Divine Mercy to the people, couples and families that suffer one weakness or the other.
We urge couples and pastoral agents, and the faithful to read and meditate on Amoris Laetitia.
The infinite Mercy of God requires from each Christian a discernment and a true personal conversion.
- To you, members of the Church, the family of God in Cameroon, in your respective situations, of joy and of sorrow, we urge you to open yourselves to the Mercy of God and to contemplate the face of the Merciful Father, Jesus,our Savior.
On this path of welcoming the joy of love, we look unto the merciful eyes of the Holy Mother of God, for it is she who is the first to showus the way and accompany us in experiencing love. (Pope Francis)