Young priests under five years of ordination from Zimbabwe’s eight Catholic dioceses were recently trained on canonical issues in view of Synodality with special attention on the comprehensive understanding of the norms on the Pastoral Care and the Prerequisites for the Celebration of Marriage.
The trainings which were organized by the ZCBC National Marriage Tribunal (NMT) and conducted in Bulawayo and Harare emphasized on pastoral reflections and challenges that emanate from some canonical issues. The workshops also reflected on the challenges that are faced by priests as official witnesses in marriage.
Addressing young priests in Bulawayo and Harare, Fr. Bernard Mukwewa, presented pastoral instruments which are at the services of the Family and Marriage one of which is the National Marriage Tribunal. He said one of the goals of the workshops was to look at how pastors can make use of the Marriage Tribunal to solve some of the problems encountered in the Pastoral Ministry.
“Marriage is the source and centre of the Christian family. Instead of debating whether the divorced and remarried can be allowed to receive communion without any problem, the law advises us to look at the validity of that marriage first,” said Fr. Mukwewa.
The priest explained the importance of avoiding unnecessary errors by following prescriptions of canon law. He encouraged pastors to listen carefully and to avoid being judgemental in every case highlighting that every case is different.
Fr. Mukwewa also challenged young priests to promote synodality which he said ought to be expressed in the Church’s ordinary way of living and working.
“We are reminded that Synodality is the form of communion of the Church-the People of God. In this journey together of the People of God with her pastors, in the synodal process everyone participates, each according to his or her own function. That is, ecclesial communion requires journeying together with respect to the various functions of the People of God (the laity, the consecrated and the clergy),” he said.
While other people are capitalizing on the synod as a way of renewing the church, Fr. Mukwewa highlighted some challenges that he said impinge on the implementation of this grand initiative which includes fear of losing authority by the priests, lack of proper catechesis, lack of knowledge by office bearers, misunderstanding of the thrust of the synod and lack of resources to implement the project fully.