27 June 2018
Ad Limina

The ups and downs of family life

Ad Limina Vista of Uganda’s Bishops

On June 22nd, the Bishops of Uganda came to our Dicastery for their Ad Limina Visit to Rome. The theme at the center of the exchange between the African Bishops and the Superiors of the Dicastery were of young people, the family, and lay associations.

Uganda is a very young country, with almost 78% of the population under 30, and 52% under 18. If, on the one hand, this figure represents an undisputed source of hope for the nation’s present and future, on the other hand, it is disquieting because of the many challenges with which young people are faced. In fact, long years of bloody conflict in the North of the country have marked the lives of many child soldiers and fueled a general climate of insecurity and violence that are at the rooted of many social problems of today’s young Ugandans: unemployment, delinquency, drugs, alcohol, poverty, illiteracy... The highest price is paid mainly by the young in the rural areas who suffer from a very high rate of illiteracy. This often excludes them from many professional and pastoral proposals. Consequently, the challenge of the pastoral care of young people is to ensure that the most fortunate young people become the apostles of their peers who are most at risk.

Speaking of the family in Uganda, the Bishops focused on the lights and shadows. In general, Ugandan families still gladly welcome new life recognizing that their children are a gift, but polygamy, domestic violence, poverty, the negative impact of Western ideologies are destabilizing factors today for the institution of marriage in Uganda. It is no coincidence that the number of separations and divorces is growing and increasing numbers of children are born out of wedlock. The Church, to respond to this epochal challenge, is centered on the formation of couples who may, in turn, evangelize others. The Ugandan Church has, therefore, adopted Amoris Laetitia, “an excellent catechesis for families” and a formidable formational tool to be inculturated and, so, adapted to the reality of their local Church.

Finally, the theme of lay movements and associations came to the fore. The Bishops unanimously expressed their appreciation for their vitality and, above all, for the deepened faith and the Christian witness in society to which many Ugandan lay people have come today thanks to their accompaniment and the formation they offer. However, they did note, that in some case, they still have difficulties becoming a part of the ecclesial fabric and there is the persistent feeling that they constitute a parallel Church.