MESSAGE DELIVERED BY THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIO TO GHANA, HIS EXCELLENCY JEAN MARIE SPEICH, AT THE 2014 ANNUAL PLENARY SESSION OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE, IN ACCRA, NOVEMBER 11, 2014
Mister Chairman, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference,
Your Graces, Archbishop of Accra, Host of the day,
My Lordships, Traditional Rulers,
Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, faithful of the St. Sylvanus parish,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The theme: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of the New Evangelization, for the annual Plenary Session of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference 2014, is well chosen. We all know that the family in the world now is going through turbulent times and the impact is obvious. This phenomenon is not restricted to the families of the Western Countries but also affects and is apparent to the peoples of Africa, who notwithstanding the fact of their traditions and customs experience it.
Different theories are emerging in these days which are founded only on science, psychology or financial interests. And we know well that, these very theories are in perpetual evolution and have arrived at a point of not being able to respect the very essence of the family – its human essence and its divine essence. These theories are at the point of negating that the family is the sanctuary of life, the true place for persons, and a vital cell of society and, of course, of the Church.
In this moment, the family is been negated progressively in the name of the supposed egoistic good of the individual, of his freedom. Sometimes these theories present the family like an enemy to the individual. It is to be noted also the introduction or interference of finance interests and techniques into the life of the family and the person. This interference is accepted as an obligatory primacy that determines the extent to which the family and the individual have to be superimposed for one to be happy and free.
This phenomenon is very complex and cannot have to be treated so seriously in just few words. It merits a deep reflection, studies and prayers on the part of those responsible for the Catholic Church who have to be helped by varied experts at various times and season. As Catholic Shepherds, you cannot leave out God and the teaching of Christ out of your reflections. But, you have to use Jesus and his teaching as conducting wire whiles taking serious decision.
The just ended Synod of Bishops which took place in Rome the last month began a Catholic study or reflection on the family in the purest sense, and in complete transparence. This transparence was actually desired by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who allowed together with the entire faithful to take part in the work of the synod, taking in to account the actual complexity of situation in which one encounters or live family life in contemporary times. We cannot ignore difficulties and needs in the family life, and we have to find for them pastoral answers.
This first Session was actually meant as time of exchanges, reflection and prayers and will be followed by another session of the Synod of Bishops next year. In the mean time, the reflection within the Catholic Church circles (and Church circles are not only the Plenary Assembly, but we find them in each Diocese and parish) can be guided, of course, by the Relatio Synodi, but overall by the No. 42-46 from the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Africae Munus; by the No 52 -53 from the encyclical letter Lumen Fidei, and from the Apostolic Exhortation Evangilii Gaudium. We cannot forget to mention the wonderful Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio given by Saint Jean Paul II. Of course, the general line of discussion emanates from the Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Magisterium of the Family. I assure you the Catholic Church will not change her teaching about Family. Please do not accept to be manipulated by anti-catholic or anti-Christian Media.
I reiterate the aptness therefore of the theme chosen by the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference for this Plenary Assembly: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of the New Evangelization. I am very sure that the Ghanaian Bishops will bring to the Church a valued contribution on this subject not only for today, but for tomorrow also. The Catholic Church in Ghana wants to develop a pastoral for the family and offer to the society his own contribution. I pray to God for this purpose and may God bless this Assembly and each one of you. His Holiness, Pope Francis, send you the Apostolic blessing. Thank You!
*Apostolic Nuncio exchanging pleasantries with some Bishops