Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499
HENRIQUES, Alan C. The Roman Catholic response to customary unions in South Africa 1948-2012. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2013, vol.39, n.1. ISSN 2412-4265.
The study begins with a discussion started within Roman Catholic circles with the article published by Ten Velde on customary unions as legitimate marriages (South African Clergy Review 1952) and the response of Reuter in his book on the same subject. Authors discussed include Hastings, Berglund, Dwane, Blum and others that have written about indigenous marriage in South Africa and the African continent as a whole. Topics included within the body of this article include customary unions, reflections on polygamy, the emancipation of women, conjugal fidelity and addressing the issues of double standards. Marriage is a basic building block of any society. One has to also bear in mind that this building block consists of the church wedding, the traditional customary wedding involving the family and then finally the civil marriage which involves the state. At different moments in time specific aspects of the culture may be expressed. In particular the issue of marital fidelity was dealt with by Marc de Muelenaere concerning the mentality of perpetual bachelorhood prevalent within South Africa. In the future it would be good to see more of a unity between the ecclesiastical and civil aspects of marriage. In conclusion the article focuses on the need to update our understanding of customary unions given that the South African government enacted the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 in 1998 as part of the law of the land applicable to all South Africans.