For Pope Francis the family is a ‘masterpiece of God’, rooted in our very human nature. This divine masterwork still needs helpers to shape and support it. The situation varies from country to country. Here are two examples:

In the diocese of Hyderabad in Pakistan there are around 50,000 Catholics living among 28 million Muslims. In such an overwhelmingly Islamic environment Christian married couples have a prophetic role to play. It is hard to teach the sacrament of marriage –

  • the equal dignity of husband and wife,
  • the mutual respect and love,
  • the indissolubility of marriage and lifelong fidelity.

And still more so when the families concerned belong to the poorest section of society.

Yet it is here that the helpers of God’s masterpiece are visiting families and organising courses, teaching couples

  • how to communicate with love,
  • how to resist outside pressures through the grace of the sacraments, and
  • how to resolve conflicts within the family.

They are preparing young couples for marriage and teaching them how to behave towards each other, to respect and understand the femininity and masculinity of the other.

Six Catholic couples have offered up their time and energy to train for this family apostolate and now they are passing on their knowledge to other couples.

17 parishes are still waiting for helpers, as the courses cost money which the diocese does not have. Bishop Samson Shukardin has asked our help, and we have promised to help him so that he can fund the programme for the next three years and this support and nurture this ‘masterpiece of God’.

This same nurturing is also important for the archdiocese of Bangui in the Central African Republic. Here they face additional problems –

  • AIDS,
  • very young mothers,
  • numerous war orphans and
  • lone parents as a result of the three-year civil war.

The training to be given to the 78 married couples – who will subsequently work as pastoral assistants in the parishes and accompany and support the families and mothers – will be based on the papal teachings, including

  • Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI,
  • Familiaris Consortio by St. John Paul II and
  • Amoris Laetitiae by Pope Francis.

These 78 couples are a task force for peace. For as John Paul II wrote, ‘The family creates the peace of the human family’. We have promised the Archbishop the support he needs for this masterpiece of Peace in Bangui.

This article can be found in Mirror 0617.