Coming back to the African Synod's theme of the "Church as God's family", which was launched in May 1996, it was then that 1997 was declared as the "Year of the Caring Family".
Particular themes for the 1997 theme included "Care for the sick, aged and orphans, the promotion of women and girls, youth training, promotion of justice and peace and development".
It is in keeping with this theme that this letter was written. It was meant to bring to the attention of all Catholic Christians the challenge for 1997 in much more detail. The challenge is to look at the context of the Church in Zambia today and search for the occasions on which each and everyone can also accompany Jesus, as the people of Nain did, in being compassionate to other people.
In the text from the Gospel according to St. Luke, which the Bishops quote there is a story of a widow who loses her only Child and Jesus brings him back to life. This is a story, they say in which Jesus reminds us of ‘the vision of a Church that is obedient, loving, full of solidarity, and above all compassionate’. This is a Church that is built on the model of a "caring family".
"Jesus went to a town called Nain, together with his disciples and a large number of people. When he was near the gate of the town, there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother and she was a widow. A considerable number of the town people were with her, `don't cry'". (Luke, 7:11-14)
Dear brothers and sisters in the Catholic faith. We greet you in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, the true model of the Church.