The challenges facing the contemporary trial and traditional marriages in embracing Holy Matrimony in Wera Catholic Parish in the light of Familiaris Consortio
Pope Benedict XVI said, “the Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance,” (Motu Proprio Porta Fidei, No. 2). Following this request of the Holy Father, I got interested in carrying out family apostolate in the parish that involved house to house visitation in the Out Stations (Sub Parishes) aimed to establish the number of Catholic Christians; know the Christians who received different sacraments; get to know their spiritual problems and assist them in preparation for sacraments. It is through this pastoral programme that I realized that a majority of adult Christians who live as husbands and wives in families are in trial and customary marriages. There is low attitude towards Christian marriage and during Sunday (or any other day) of Eucharistic celebrations, very few adult Christians could turn up to receive Holy Communion implying that a number of them are not legally married in the Church; yet day unto day they do contract illegal marriages, produce offspring’s and they seem to be comfortable in such marriages. But according to our faith the ideal married life is that of sacraments. It is on this note that the researcher undertook the study to examine the challenges facing the contemporary trial and traditional marriages in embracing Holy Matrimony in Wera Catholic Parish in the light of Familiaris Consortio of John Paul II. Since the aim was to tackle the challenges facing the Christians in illegal marriages today if the Church is to foster a proper growth of Church marriage and the reception of other sacraments. This process will provide the Church with model families of peace, unity, charity and stability which we shall be proud to call the domestic Church. In reviewing literature the researcher dealt more on the challenges some African theologians sighted when dealing with marriage probably nowadays hindering those in illegal marriages in embracing legal marriage. For instance Hastings who noted that many people who do not marry in Church live a regular monogamous life; their failure to marry in Church may be due to lack of money, lack of energy, the desire to marry someone of another Church or religion or rarity with which they see a priest; while some other people are just not interested in Church marriage though such are few cases in villages. Kanyadago also pointed out the problem of polygamy or plural marriages as one of the most delicate and serious challenges that the African Church has to deal with. Mbiti discovered fear as one of the dominant motives faced by the partners in such marriages. J.M. Waliggo also brings out: the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which brings a lot of effects to the African people; the armed conflicts that are responsible for the influx of refugees and IDPs. For the success of this study the researcher employed the following: Population Sampling Techniques the researcher had the sample size of 320 people. Research Instruments: Observation; The non-participant and participant techniques were used by the researcher. Questionnaire: The questionnaires were distributed to the selected respondents who knew how to read and write. This was intended to get their views and perceptions about the research topic and attitude on Church marriage. Non-scheduled non-structured and non-scheduled structured Interview guide: This instrument was helpful in collecting vital data for the research from both the elite and illiterate persons of the selected sample. The interview questions were asked in relation to the research objectives, and were open ended. In discussing the findings, having seen that poverty, high demands of bride price (dowry), fear, lack of deep faith, lack of self-giving love, unfaithfulness in marriage, domestic violence and ignorance on the effects of the sacraments among others have greatly affected the growth of Church marriage in Wera Catholic Parish. Having analysed all the findings above, the researcher came with the following recommendations: Catechesis: There is need to develop a programme of catechesis for the family and marriage being run by well trained Church ministers through Catholic founded private FM radio stations as well as through family apostolate. This catechesis may cover marriage in a broader sense and the effects of sacraments at large for married couples. Training of Lay specialists: These may be teachers, counselors, catechists and other professionals, especially those who are Catholics, who may be valuable resources to the institution of the family and marriage. Directory for the pastoral care for the family and marriage: Following the call of John Paul II, there is need to publish a Directory for the Pastoral care of the family, especially spearheaded by the Uganda Episcopal Conference, which will serve as a handbook for guiding marriage and family pastoral care programmes in different parts of the country. The researcher concluded that, lack of catechesis based on the sacraments and family apostolate have caused this phenomenon in Wera Catholic Parish because many people are ignorant of the effects of sacraments. But this research has viable means of winning Christ’s faithful to bless their marriages. Thus carrying out proper catechesis and family apostolate will help in breaking the gap and showing further that, the Catholic Church has vested interest in fostering the reception of all the seven sacraments of Christ.