By: ECM’s Stella Zulu
The Bishop Chairman of Communications and Research Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Rt. Rev Montfort Stima, has urged families to live in love and avoid domestic violence if they are to create a conducive environment for honoring God in the domestic church.
The Bishop made the call at a National workshop held from 11th to 16th of November at Our Lady of Africa Conference Centre in Lilongwe. This workshop was organized by ECM’s Communications Commission in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to train pastoral agents in effectively and efficiently handling intimate domestic violence within Malawian Catholic families.
In his speech, Bishop Stima said according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church art. 2207, the family is the original cell of social life in which parents are the first teachers, and it is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life.
“Family life is a place where one is initiated into social life. It is in this nucleus community in which from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, learn to give and receive love, to make sacrifices, manage differences, make good use of freedom and take care of each other. In all these, parents are first teachers,” said Bishop Stima.
The Bishop said an essential mission of family is to protect, enhance, reveal and transmit love, emphasizing that a person normally comes into the world within a family, and owes his existence to the family. He therefore said there is a direct relationship between God and a family because God, in his innermost mystery, is not loneliness but family; there is paternity, affiliation and love.
Referring to Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortia, Bishop Stima said there are four tasks of the family such as forming a community of persons, serving life, participating in the development of the society and sharing in the life and mission of the church.
He further lamented that this is not what is reflected in most families these days, as most of them are marred by violence which tarnishes the good image of the family. The bishop elaborated that violence takes a number of forms including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive and sexual abuse which he said are easily transferred to children.
“Domestic violence occurs when the abuser believes that abuse is an entitlement, acceptable, justified, or unlikely to be reported. If families are not careful, it may produce an intergenerational cycle of abuse in children and other family members who may feel that such violence is acceptable”, said the Bishops.
Bishop Stima said the workshop was timely as it will help pastoral agents to be work with integrity and accountability. He advised the Pastoral agents to be role models in their various responsibilities so they attract the attention of people they serve.