To meet the challenges of modernity and rebuild Vietnam’s increasingly fractured social fabric, the Vietnamese Church has decided to dedicate the year of 2017 to the family, the basic unit on which the country is founded.
To reach this goal, Vietnam’s bishops decided to focus on future
families, providing seminars and courses for couples preparing for
marriage and family life.
According to official data for 2016, there are over 60,000 divorce cases in Vietnam each year, a growing trend, experts warn.
The leading cause of divorce is differences over family lifestyle and
everyday problems, followed by adultery (25.9 per cent), financial
problems (13 per cent), domestic violence (6.7 per cent), health (2.2
per cent) and living apart.
One source of great concern is that the problem is not limited to cities and larger urban centres, but also affects rural areas.
Furthermore, more than 70 per cent of divorce cases involve couples
aged 22 to 30. About 60 per cent of couples have been married from one
to five years and have had children together.
These alarming figures have prompted the Catholic Church to mobilise
catechists and religious to help families through pastoral meetings,
outreach, counselling, and prayer groups.
This comes in response to the call by priests and others, who stress
the need for a path to marriage based on faith, the only way on which to
found a relationship that can be truly permanent.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Mr Thu, a social worker at the
archdiocese of Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, said that "some young
couples are not yet aware of the meaning of marriage and family life".
For some, marriage is a way to get out of their original family but
without understanding what living with another person entails.
Often divorce is used as a "threat" during everyday quarrels. In
fact, “When the first difficulties appear, they are unprepared to deal
Ms Hien, a Catholic volunteer in Đà Lạt, points out that if "moral
education" is imparted in the family, every member is capable of "taking
care" of others and the "risk" of breaking bonds is reduced.
"The important thing,” she notes, “is that couples ought to know how
to think about and take care of others, respectful of traditional
Vietnamese family values."
Family problems do not concern Catholics lone. Among Buddhists, the country’s main religion, leaders are equally concerned.
"The parents’ faith will help children,” said Mr Huy, a Buddhist
social worker, “lending them a hand to overcome difficulties. A family
consists of people who love each other, who help children to have faith
and hope in life."