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Emulate St. Joseph in Responsible Parenting, South African Bishop to Christian Men

Bishop Duncan Theodore Tsoke of South Africa’s Kimberley Catholic Diocese. Credit: Sacred Photos ZA/Sheldon Reddiar

St. Joseph poses as a role model that every married Christian man should emulate when it comes to parenting, the Bishop of South Africa’s Kimberley Catholic Diocese has said.

In his Wednesday, December 8 homily at St. Peter’s Galeshewe Parish of Kimberley Diocese, Bishop Duncan Theodore Tsoke said that St. Joseph is at the forefront in protecting the church the same way he protected baby Jesus and mother Mary from king Herod.

“Taking St. Joseph as an example, I would like today to challenge all men, all of you in this Parish, in this Diocese, in this Deanery to step up and show greater responsibility in parenting our sons and daughters,” Bishop Tsoke said in his homily during the closure of the year of St. Joseph.

The South African Bishop added, “We cannot have a society where children are raised up only by mothers and grandmothers; such a society becomes a society without values.”

He expressed concern about some men who he said fail to be role models to their sons as St. Joseph was to baby Jesus.

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“St. Joseph was a positive role model to his son Jesus and Christian men should be positive role models to their sons; but as I said, this is not happening; instead, we often are bad role models to our sons,” Bishop Tsoke said. 

He explained what he referred to as shame associated with South African men who fail to take full responsibility of taking care of their children. He said that women are normally abandoned when pregnant, thereby bearing the responsibility of bringing up children alone.

“St. Joseph did not abandon his role as a father. He cared for and raised Jesus, he was there for him at all times, he did not abandon his son. It is a shame today that in South Africa more than 40 percent of children are being raised without knowing their fathers,” he said.

He added in reference to children who grow up in the absence of their fathers saying, “Their fathers abandoned them when their mothers were pregnant and children grew up without knowing their fathers and I think we need to change this.”

The Local Ordinary of Kimberley Diocese further criticized absentee fathers in families, men who he said are always either in clubs drinking alcohol or are too busy for their children.

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“We have cases where the children know their fathers and live with them but their fathers do not spend time with the children,” he said, and added, “In the evenings during the week and over the weekend the fathers are busy at the pubs drinking and such fathers leave all the parenting to the mothers.”

Speaking on the conduct of men in the presence of their children, Bishop Tsoke cautioned against behaviors that incite violence in children especially those targeting women.

“As men we should not teach our sons to disrespect women; as men we should not teach our sons to beat up women; as men we should not teach our sons that to be a man (is to be exposed)to drugs,” Bishop Tsoke cautioned, and posed, “I therefore ask men… what kind of role model are we to our sons?”

The Catholic Bishop acknowledged the presence of sodality groups in the church including the Catholic Men Association (CMA), which he said bring men together to follow the example of St. Joseph their patron.

He encouraged men to be active in such groups for they foster the spirit of St. Joseph, but cautioned against engaging in gossip that seeks to damage the reputation of other people.

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He said in reference to sodality group meetings, “I hope it is not a drinking club. I hope it's not a club where you are targeting women in the church and breaking families.”

“When we meet as sodalities, do we challenge one another as Christian men and Christian fathers or do we become like the opposite sex and talk about people?” he posed.

Bishop Tsoke called upon Parish Priests who serve as chaplains in sodality groups like CMA in their respective Parishes to ensure that at least a monthly meeting of 30 minutes with all sodality men is held to discuss what it means to be a father and how to be role models to their sons rather than just discussing about money during such meetings.

Speaking on the ongoing 16 days of activism campaign that began November 25 under the theme, “End Violence Against Women Now”, Bishop Tsoke urged men to be active in efforts that seek to protect women against abuse.

“Violence against women continues to happen because you as a man and as a Christian do not want to do anything about it. I want to appeal to all men here; you have your daughters; you have your granddaughters; you have your nieces or cousins who have been beaten up by their husbands or boyfriends. I ask you to begin to do something to stop this,” he said.

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“Do you enjoy to see that they are beaten all the time?” he posed, and added, “For God's sake, do not just sit and watch; you will be judged on that. St. Joseph did not just sit around and watch; he defended his wife and his son when there was a threat of violence.”

The 57-year-old Bishop made reference to Pope Francis’ message during the launch of the Year of St. Joseph to speak about the saint’s role in protecting the church as satan works hard to bring it down.

“When Pope Francis speaks of St. Joseph, as the patron saint who is protecting the church, he says this because he knows that satan is busy trying to divide and destroy the church,” Bishop Tsoke said.

He explained, “When we talk of the church we are also talking of the Dioceses, the Parishes and the families of the basic cell of the body of Christ and satan is also trying to divide and destroy our Dioceses, our Parishes and our families.”

The South African Catholic Bishop added, “Family life is in a crisis; sometimes people are fighting one another, people are divided or people are fighting for positions and all this for me is the work of the evil one trying to destroy our Parishes.”

“We are fighting one another in our families. There is no peace. There is no love. Instead, there are wounds, hatred, lack of trust that is also the work of the evil one,” Bishop Tsoke said.

“When families are weak… the Parish becomes weak, the church becomes weak, the body of Christ is affected,” he said, and added, “We should make no mistake about it; Satan is working hard to cause fights and divisions in our Dioceses, our Parishes and our families.”

He urged couples to seek the intercession of St. Joseph whenever they have a crisis in their families because the family is the cell of the church.