The Global Challenges the Pope FacesSherry Weddell remarks:A timely reminder from Andrea Tornielli that the west is not the world. The west isn’t even the majority of the Christian world anymore:“More than half (106 bishops) of the almost two hundred individuals participating in the Extraordinary Synod on the Family which opened today in the Vatican hail from Asia, Latin America, Africa and Oceania. It would be very short-sighted of us to therefore focus our attention exclusively on hot issues affecting European societies and Churches which are facing the challenge of secularism, to the detriment of the challenges and problems faced in other parts of the world.”Snip.“The Synod will need to address the issues affecting real families, rather than “the family” in general. There are parts of Africa where arranged marriages take place between 10-year-old girls and 60-year-old men. In countries like Niger and Chad, 70% of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before their 15th birthday.It is not easy for the Church to speak about a “natural law” – as bishops of Africa, Asia and Oceania pointed out – in places where polygamy is considered natural, as is disowning a wife for not being able to bear male sons. In Melanesia, meanwhile, our idea of a “traditional” family, is seen as a Western model that is hard to get one’s head around. This is because of the existence of matriarchal societies in which it is the responsibility of the mother’s brothers to educate a child rather than the biological father.”

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