Extract from Revai “Elizabeth” Mudzimu, “Motherhood as Mirage: The Role of the Catholic Church in Shaping Zimbabwean Girls’ Vocations” in Shared Visions:
In Africa generally and in Zimbabwe, in particular, girls often find themselves caught in a conflict between traditional and modern attitudes towards motherhood. Catholic girls and women who want to become mothers have to grapple with their African culture and Catholic teachings, while at the same time wanting to respond to the promises and challenges of globalization. There is an idea that motherhood is an essential aspect of African womanhood, and failure to have children or to perform well as a mother can result in stigmatization.
I refer to motherhood as a “mirage” because the way church teaching is communicated can create an illusory idea about what it means to be a mother, without preparing girls for the reality of mothering. Pope Francis calls for a Church that is with people in their struggles and shows them God’s mercy. This means that priests, sisters and teachers of the faith need to understand people’s lived experiences and their cultural contexts. Rather than a “one-size fits all” approach, teachings need to be adapted to their contexts. If the vocation to marriage and motherhood is to be meaningful, church teaching needs to be disseminated more effectively to the grassroots, and become more integrated into the current social, economic, cultural and technological environment.