November 22, 2011 ( – The Catholic bishops of Angola and Santo Tomé have issued a ringing denunciation of the assault of modern society against the family, as the government considers alterations to the penal code that could eliminate penalties for abortion.

Uniting themselves to Pope Benedict XVI, who recently traveled to Africa, the bishops note in a pastoral message, issued in the wake of the most recent Synod of African Bishops held in Rome, that the family is “the primary unit of the Church and of society,” calling it “the domestic church.”

They observe, however, that the family is under assault by the media and the Internet, which despite their benefits “also have poisonous effects on the heart of the family.”

“In many cases, the education of the children, above all in the cities, is entrusted to soap operas, movies, and programs that are inappropriate for children, far from the attention and control of parents,” the bishops write.

As a result, “they end up leaving their children to their fate and exposed to violence, pornography, and other destructive behavior such as abortion, lack of respect for paternal authority, precocious relationships and marriages, which are anti-values spread widely by television and the Internet.”

The bishops note that Angolan families are suffering other attacks as well, including “false ideologies,” extra-marital relationships, domestic violence, polygamy, occult practices and false accusations of witchcraft, and bad examples set by public officials. They also denounce the harmful effects of poverty and an economic system that requires couples to work and live far away from one another.

As a response, the bishops call for the “evangelization” of families in all of their aspects, including improvements in courses for marriage preparation, more family support at the parish level, programs to address drug and alcohol abuse, and economic help for families in distress.