Convergences and Conflicts in a Comparison of Lwo Marriage Tradition and Contemporary Catholic Understanding of Marriage

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2005



Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

George S. Worgul

Committee Member

James P. Hanigan

Committee Member

Luke Mbefo

Committee Member

Sean P. Kealy




This dissertation examined the convergences and conflicts in a comparison of Lwo marriage tradition and contemporary Catholic understanding of marriage. The emphasis of this dissertation is that the issue that most separates the Lwo from Catholic teachings, is marriage. Lwo marriage traditions and Catholic marriage practices force Lwo couples to choose between their heritage and their Catholic faith. This dissertation, therefore, explores and defines whether and which Lwo marriage traditions can be inculturated with Catholic marriage practices. But, true inculturation demands that both cultures are flexible and open to change.

The objective of this study, therefore, is to identify and build "common ground" so that the Lwo can eventually express their Catholic faith without sacrificing their valuable cultural traditions. Likewise, the Catholic Church can shape its practices to accommodate Lwo traditions without damaging its religious obligations. This can only be accomplished by defining what can be accepted and encouraged in their respective marriage traditions.

The Church has not completely convinced the Lwo on many dimensions and issues of marriage. That implication is obvious from the simple fact that most Lwo Catholics are considered by the Church to be living in sin because their marriages fall short of the standards set by the Church, or due to some other technical deviation from Catholic teachings. The end result is that many Lwo Catholics have been barred from Holy Communion because their marriages do not conform to the requirements of the Church.

The study recommended that inculturating Catholicism, and especially its understanding of marriage, is mandatory and critically important for the religious progress of the Lwo people. Obviously, that is a huge task. The primary challenge facing the Catholic Church is attempting to make its views understood without being perceived as judgmental of the Lwo ways. This requires truly understanding and analyzing the Lwo culture. The issue is one of balance between Lwo and Catholic traditions, a balance that begins with an appreciation for the foundations of Lwo thinking. Most importantly, it will take a lot of time to gradually alter the Lwo perception of the Church.





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