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Making “family life easier, better and more life giving” the focus of Johannesburg Synod

Archdiocese of Johannesburgy Synod 2019: September 20-21

The theme of family that preoccupied African bishops during yearlong celebration of the golden jubilee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) is guiding the Synod of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg in South Africa that is set to start on Friday, September 20.

According to the main organizer of the Synod, Fr. Bruce Botha, the two-day event will seek to focus on “the issues that we need to address as a Church to make family life easier, better and more life giving.”

“It is not a question of how we can make people aware of and honour the sacrament and nature of Christian marriage,” Fr. Botha who is the Apostolic Vicar for Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg clarified in an interview to a local Catholic radio.

The overall theme of the Synod is “Marriage and Family life, Youth, Renewal and Missionary Discipleship.”

The event, which will bring together four representatives from each of the 106 out of the 123 parishes of Johannesburg Archdiocese, will seek to address critical issues affecting marriage life.

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“I am hoping that they (participants) will point us towards more comprehensive solutions to marital life which go beyond the obvious,” Fr. Botha said and noted, “Among the issues to be discussed are gender-based violence, patriarchy or various cultures which make it difficult to commit to a marriage.”

 “We need to create a welcoming atmosphere for the youth so that young people feel appreciated,” read the Synod document, which takes note of the need to include the youth in the church.

“Age and lack of experience should not be an excuse to exclude or marginalize youth, rather, it places an obligation on parish leadership to provide adequate mentorship and support,” the Synod document continues.

The element of renewal will be about “conversion, a turning away from what takes life from us towards what strengthens and deepens the life of Christ within us.”

The aspect of Missionary Discipleship will seek to focus on “evangelising and/or re-evangelising non-Christians and lapsed Catholics, as well as carrying the love of Christ to the needy and marginalized.”

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This is the second Synod the Archdiocese of Johannesburg is organizing. The first Synod took place in 2008 and reflected on “the state of our Catholic community in the Archdiocese.”