The laity in Masaka diocese wants the Catholic Church to consider relaxing some of the restrictions on cohabiting couples. This came up during the commencement of the collection of public views on possible amendments in the administration of the life and mission of the Church.
Late last year, Pope Francis declared the largest consultations in the history of the Catholic church and instructed all dioceses to invite faithful to share their views on various aspects of their respective local churches and the reforms they would wish to see.
The consultation according to official communication from Rome was informed by a desire to build holistic participation of all faithful in the activities of the church, strengthening the cohesion of the church institution, as well as addressing prejudices existing between them and other faiths.
In Masaka diocese, the synod of consultations has begun with capturing views of Parish Priests, members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council Executive, heads of the parish laity commissions, and other religious groups.
Pankalasio Barigye, the Chairperson of the guild of married men in Masaka Diocese, says that it’s high time the Church considered extending an olive branch to some couples cohabiting couples as opposed to completely locking them out as unholy.
He says that there is need to relax on some of the tough conditions that limit people’s association with the Church such as the sacraments denied to couples that are not officially wedded in Church despite the circumstances.
He uses the examples of unwedded couples who passionately contribute to all church activities but are denied the dignity of celebrating mass at their burial and instead grant it to officially wedded Catholics regardless of their level of participation and association with the church.
Barigye prefers that such cohabiting couples are embraced with special treatment especially when they are in need of the Church. Besides burial, children born outside wedlock are barred from joining the vocation of priesthood in the church.
Francis Ssekyewa, the Church of the Catholic Youth guild in Lwagulwe parish in Kyotera district prefers that the Church puts emphasis on building all-inclusive youth employment centers as an appropriate approach to lure many people to the faith after being empowered socially and financially.
Reverend Fr. James Ssendege, the Masaka Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator who is leading the local consultation process indicates that the Church will capture all the views.
He, however, cautions the faithful to remain mindful of the doctrinal values that bind the faith. He says that although the Church has opened up for possible reforms within its affairs, some of the suggestions that compromise its values cannot be considered.
The Masaka Diocesan Bishop Serverus Jjumba has sent out a nine-member committee to oversee deliberations that will be conducted at sub-parish and parish levels across the diocese.
The views collected from each diocese will be compiled in a report that will be submitted to the Uganda Episcopal Conference, which will forward a summarized national report to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and eventually sent to the Vatican for possible considerations.
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