The Vatican (LifeNews/CFAM) — Last week Pope Benedict issued a pontifical document denouncing efforts to promote abortion in Africa through “confusing language” in international documents and “lack of clarity at international meetings.” The Pontiff also criticized one-dimensional AIDS prevention programs as ineffective and “not enough.”
The paper, called an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Africae Munus addresses issues originally raised during a Synod of African Bishops in 2009. In a section on the “Protection of Life,” he writes about the “lack of clarity at international meetings, and the use of confusing language conveying values at odds with Catholic moral teaching.” He highlights “questionable elements found in certain international documents, especially those concerned with women’s reproductive health.”
While no UN treaty mentions abortion, the UN human rights machinery and related organizations are attempting to fabricate a right to abortion through references to family planning, reproductive rights, and the right to health. In Africa a regional treaty known as the Maputo Protocol recognizes abortion as a right. However, only half of the 54 African nations are party to it precisely because of this.
Concerning abortion, Pope Benedict writes: “[t]he Church’s position on the matter of abortion is unambiguous. The child in his or her mother’s womb is a human life which must be protected. Abortion, which is the destruction of an innocent unborn child, is contrary to God’s will, for the value and dignity of human life must be protected from conception to natural death. The Church in Africa and the neighboring islands must be committed to offering help and support to women and couples tempted to seek an abortion, while remaining close to those who have had this tragic experience and helping them to grow in respect for life.”
He commends the “courage of governments that have legislated against the culture of death – of which abortion is a dramatic expression – in favor of the culture of life.” He exhorts that despite waning support for human life and dignity “[w]e must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the thinking of this world.”
Pope Benedict mentioned other threats that “loom over human life in Africa”, in particular drug and alcohol abuse, malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. He pleads that “medical treatment be made available at minimum cost to all concerned.”
He adds specifically concerning AIDS prevention, that programs relying on a pharmaceutical response alone are ineffective because “the problem goes deeper.”
The AIDS epidemic, according to Benedict XVI, is above all “an ethical problem. The change of behavior that it requires – for example, sexual abstinence, rejection of sexual promiscuity, fidelity within marriage – ultimately involves the question of integral development.”
Effective AIDS prevention, he writes, “must be based on a sex education that is itself grounded in an anthropology anchored in the natural law and enlightened by the word of God and the Church’s teaching.”
He thanks Catholic health care providers in the region who tackle the AIDS problem and asks “international agencies to acknowledge [them] and to offer [them] assistance, respecting [their] specific character and acting in a spirit of collaboration.”
Catholic healthcare institutions face increasing difficulties in securing funding both nationally and internationally because they uphold the official position of the Catholic Church on issues like abortion and abstinence based sexual education.
LifeNews.com Note: Stefano Gennarini writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.