Saturday, June 15 2024


Families in the West face problems certainly different in respect
African countries, Australian, Asian, etc.


Often we focus on what feels closer to our culture, or what media in
our respective countries considers more important and highlights.


This is the risk we run in a moment such as the concluded Synod on the
Family. The danger is that too much focus will be on certain aspects,
forgetting thus the universal significance of the Synod.


We are happy to have had the opportunity to speak with Msgr. Anthony
Borwah, Bishop of Gbarnga (Liberia), who has participated at the
Ordinary Synod on the Family. Due to the Ebola outbreak, causing
numerous deaths in African countries and even reaching Borwah’s
diocese, he was prevented from taking part in the preceding Synod.
Msgr. Borwah, who lost two brothers in Liberia’s first civil war
(1987-1990), has always been greatly concerned about the role of media
in conflicts. In fact, his Licentiate thesis in the Communications
School

,

at the Pontifical Cross of the Holy Cross, was titled: The Role of
Journalism in the Promotion of Peace. An Analysis of News Coverage in
the Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda Conflicts. The scope of this
interview, regarding challenges of the family and the Synod, is broader
in comparison to what much of Western media presents as hot button
issues concerning these matters.


Could you tell us what are the principle challenges that families face
in your country?

The challenges that afflict families in Liberia are enormous ranging from
the socio-economic to the cultural-anthropological, among others. Within
the cultural-anthropological context, there has been a lot of changes in
the traditional philosophy of the typical Liberian family: the family
viewed as a locus of communion for human beings; a place where one turns to
for acceptance, love, care and safety; a hearth within and around which
family members – often extended – sit to tell young people wisdom tales
recounting the heroism of the ancestors and the connectivity between human
beings and animals and the rest of Creation, a harmony that was set
unbalanced by human beings because of their refusal to obey God or norms of
society; a community in which life, fecundity and children were regarded as
gifts from the Eternal Creator that dwells beyond the high clouds; and an
oasis of peace where all conflicts – no matter the nature – were settled;
among others. The trends are turning the other way. This vision of the
family is fast disappearing due partly to the indiscipline of the elderly
to instill discipline in the children and partly by Western media and
cultural impositions. Life, for example, is no longer sacred as thousands
of abortions are performed, with impunity, even by many Christians;
ritualistic killings are common too. Contraceptives are all over the place
so much so that some school going kids are inserted with some stuff that
would prevent them from getting pregnant for five years. Sex is no more
sacred therefore. As individualism creeps in, the sense of community is
fast disappearing and loneliness settles in. The sacredness of the human
person, that was at the heart of the family philosophy, is waning. In
short, families in Liberia are slowly but gradually sinking into the
cultural and moral decadence that the West is already experiencing.


Looking at Europe, we see it’s experiencing a phenomenon in which the
youth are less inclined to enter into marriage, or at least it’s a
commitment, which is being postponed. In your country, does the
institution of marriage have a central role in the life of the people
and society, or is it in crisis as well?

As mentioned above, sadly, the institution of marriage that was a universe
of civility is no more or no longer the same. The majority of young people
are suspicious of marriage life, which they see as the restriction of their
freedom to have many sexual partners and treat their body as they choose.
For some who come from homes with serious domestic violence, it is
conclusive: they will not attempt marriage. For some who are married,
separation or divorce is a desirable option.


The Church is called to announce the Good News to all people, embracing
the different cultures. How should the Church announce the Gospel of
the family in Liberia? What issues bear more leverage on pastoral
ministry to families in your country?

We need to go back to the origin. No sound evangelization and inculturation
have ever been done in Liberia. This is a problem as the average Liberian
dreams of being American rather than a Liberian just as it was the dream of
our founding fathers, that carved our constitution, flag and way of life
based on American models. One can understand that they were ex-slaves from
the sugar cane plantations in America and America is what they knew. What
we need to do is to improve the quality of education for our young people
to one that would propel them to have a sense of self-respect, acceptance
and belief in themselves and in God. Evangelization must help to recreate
or redefine our culture and permeate it with Gospel values and virtues.
Until we succeed in proclaiming the Gospel of the family in our various
cultures I do not see any future.


Poverty, war and violent intolerance under the guise of religion,
affect family life in many countries throughout the world. The Pope has
reminded us of this frequently, even recalling it at his recent meeting
with families in Philadelphia. Do you see the centrality of these
themes at the Synod?

At the Synod participants come from diverse back grounds and this reality
is reflected in the interventions. Many speakers – including me – spoke
about violent conflicts that have reduced people to paupers, sex slaves,
unwanted migrants and refugees. The plight of the poor is at heart of many
speeches given in the synod hall. In our world we do not only have wars,
violence and intolerance created and perpetrated under the disguise of
religion, we also have situations in which wars are created by the powers
that be for economic, political, ideological and other reasons. We also
have the phenomenon called “false flag”, wherein violent acts are created
and are blamed on some individual, groups or nations, a recipe to get even
with the perceived enemy or to steal their resources. How many families are
now been destroyed in these orchestrated wars! Many synod fathers are aware
of these unfortunate realities.


The Pope has spoken of cultural colonization in some countries being
linked to the issue of the family. At the Synod, some African bishops
have denounced contraceptive policies promoted by international
agencies, the exposition of “gender ideology”, etc. Why is it that
these arguments do not seem to appear in international media? What
positive aspects has Africa offered to enrich the debate?

You know who own the international media, who are the hidden faces and the
real setters of the agenda. Journalists and other media professionals are
paid by them. They would not dare to contradict what the invisible and
shadowy uncles demand. These hidden powers are the gods of contraceptives
and everything that is an affront to the dignity of the human person,
especially as proclaimed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and instituted by
the Roman Catholic Church. In Africa, almost all the bishops are unanimous:
we denounce gender ideology, the cultural of death that is being imposed on
us, homosexuality ostentation and the continuous exploitation of our
resources and the creation of wars by the powers that be to steal from the
poor. We are presently engaging the United Nations and leaders of Africa to
express our concern and rejection of a plan that the UN is harnessing to
impose these vile practices on every African country with a threat of
imposing economic and other sanctions on the countries that would not
comply. For the Church, this is a sophisticated persecution. It is time the
spirit of martyrdom rise in the Church again for the cause of God and
humanity.


Looking at the family in general and not only the situation in your
country, what are the problems linked to the family, which, according
to you, require particular attention? What do you consider especially
urgent, on a universal scale?

The quality of love (feeling, gratification or an act of the will?) between
couples even before marriage needs proper examination. There is a void of
emptiness coupled with the absence of God and the loss of the sense of
meaning that are eating deeply at the heart of many in our world today.
People have come to realize that money, materialism, sexism, etc. widen
this void. With these realities people are becoming less and less spiritual
and godless. This situation is the intrinsic recipe for the exploitation of
others with impunity and the loss of meaning in everything even love and
marriage. Human beings must return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only
Truth. Western civilization was built by monks, priests, nuns, other
churchmen and women for a thousand years. They did so on the basis of the
Gospel. The reason for the Western and global decadence is many people’s
abhorrence of the Gospel that was once the rock from which they were hewn.
Ours, therefore, is a spiritual problem that only the finger of God can
heal. RETURNING TO THE GOSPEL IS THE BURNING URGENCY FOR HUMANITY.


By now, we are nearly at the end of the Synod. If you had to describe
it in a few words, the climate and experience, what would you say? In
your view, does the image of it match that which the media offered? Do
you see any differences between mainstream media and Catholic, or
specialized?

The synod, chaired by a very patient, discipline and listening Pope, is
really a collegial experience despite the diversity it portrays. In fact,
it is really enriched by its diversity. Most secular media hunger for
sensationalism, pro-gay stuff and other polemics. This is reflected in the
way they report about the synod. The secrecy nature of the synod may give
room to speculations, rumors and lies. The secular media and other
unscrupulous Catholic media may feed on these rumors and lies. But let it
be known that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, all is on course at the
synod.

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