ABUJA- Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Archdioceses has called for the establishment of a Ministry of Family Affairs to attend to the difficulties faced by families with a view to secure the larger society.
Kaigama made the call at the opening of the 4th Abuja Archdiocesan General Assembly on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the 3-day assembly is, “Marriage and Family in Contemporary Society.”
Kaigama said that in the contemporary society, marriages and Christian families are faced with numerous challenges due to secularism, influence of the social media, materialism, consumerism, and relativism.
According to the cleric, this is resulting in an increasing number of broken homes and single parenting in our society.
Kaigama said that some families struggle to rise above these challenges by remaining faithful to the traditional Christian values.
He said that some others are confused and obviously uncertain of the real meaning of that union to which they are called to share.
According to him, the family is the first and vital cell of society and a society is only as healthy, as stable, as energetic, and as imbued with moral values as its families.
“A nation can be strong so long as its families are strong. A nation can be said to be crumbling if its families are falling apart and riddled with moral decay.
“The existence of good families is essential for the existence of the society. Pope John Paul II teaches that the family is the core of all society.
“For this reason, policies must be adopted which protect and promote the family, the school of social virtues.
“While national issues of politics, governance, economy, and climate change are on the front burner, we must not forget that the family, the nucleus of the nation, is seriously in danger of breakdown.
“More than allocating grants and palliatives, families need to be empowered and supported by government to embark on sustainable entrepreneurial activities.
“In other countries I visit, they even pay you to give birth to a child, and when you have given birth to a child, your child have allowance and you too have allowance.
“There is paternity leave, there maternity leave, government encourages them so our government should borrow a leave from these countries.
“If possible, there should be a ministry of the family, a ministry dedicated to the family, when you lose a family, the society suffers,” he said.
Kaigama expressed hope that the five billion Naira palliative allocated to each state and the FCT to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal, and the N25,000 monthly grant, allocated to 15 million struggling Nigerian families from October – December 2023, truly get into the hands of these poor and vulnerable people.
He said that the fundamental causes of family breakdown, divorce, cases of domestic violence, lack of care for the sick and the elderly among others be investigated and remedied by government.
The cleric said that families must see to it that its members are patriotic and law abiding saying that it is disturbing to observe that the perpetrators of violence, cybercrime, kidnapping, are sometimes young people indoctrinated by criminals and enemies of the state.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Assembly, Amb. Maurice Ekpan said that the society today may be classified into two, the digital and analogue society.
He said that social conservatives argue that marriage, a once great institution has been undermined by recent attitudes to premarital sex, cohabitation, and divorce and in the past few years, the legislation of same sex union.
Ekpan, Nigeria’s former ambassador to Belgium said that the vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they come from the hand of the Creator.
“Marriage is not purely a human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes.
“These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures.
“And indeed, the well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life,” he said.
Ekpan said that some study testifies that married people are healthier, wealthier, and happier than unmarried ones.
He said some studies also show that wedlock seems to increase human happiness even allowing for the fact that many marriages fall apart.
Ekpan said that the contemporary society is largely driven by modern ideologies like relativism, hedonism and minimalism.
According to him, it has brought with it too many maladies which have threatened the very core and existence of institutions of marriage and family life.
“The most potent threat is the one that is like a double edged sword. It is the abuse of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with specific regard to the social media.
“While this can be a plus for couples and families, who spend a lot of time apart because of work, business or studies and it could help the children explore their creativity.
“The dangers can also be alarmingly profound if not wisely utilised; research has revealed that most people spend several hours on different social media handles or platforms which can have adverse effects ranging from lack of sufficient sleep, poor communication with God, unnecessary anxiety, decline in academic performance of children, etc.
“In all of these we must always remember that the family as a product of marriage has been defined in sociology as the first agent of socialisation and the most basic social unit upon which society is built.
“Also linked to other institutions like religion, education, politics, economy, and security.
This means that without marriage and the family there will be no society of persons and human beings to practice any form of Religion: no persons to engage in education, politics, economy and security,” he said. (NAN)