Friday, 22 May 2015

The case against Abortion, An appeal for Mercy - an open letter to my people

(By: Obianuju Ekeocha)


When I was growing up in the South-Eastern Nigerian city of Owerri, I remember once when unspeakable crimes were committed, a poor boy was kidnapped, killed for ritual, and cut up like an animal. These acts signified a very dark time for my people. Eventually a group of men were arrested in connection with the crimes, they were swiftly charged, judged, convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. I remember, albeit with the immature mind of a teenager, that many people accepted and even welcomed this verdict because of the gravity of the crimes the men were convicted of.
For months after the verdict the people of Owerri lived in peace under the logic that if these men were killed then justice would have been done and equilibrium will be returned to our world. And so there was little or no appeal for the condemned men and there was no recourse to mercy. Once they were put on death row, many forgot about them and there they lived in our maximum security prison for months and months and months. They were heavily guarded, powerless, subdued and unable to hurt anyone else. This was how it was until the day crept up on us all. The day of execution.
I will never forget this day because even though by law, justice was to be served, but there was no real feeling of victory or jubilation in our city. Rather there was the feeling of a dark gloomy cloud settling over us as everyone counted down to the last few hours until the executions. And what a feeling!
This was such a high interest case that everyone knew about it and the press converged upon it to give us what felt at the time like a minute by minute report. Everyone waited for the thundering gun shots that will deliver justice. Many went to watch this happen. Those who couldn't watch went close enough to the prisons to hear the multiple shots when they came. So none of us was exempt from the reality of this execution.
And when it finally happened, there was an overwhelming stench of raw emotions that cocooned the entire city for days afterwards.
Justice was served, but yet joy eluded us all. This was in 1997. And I have gladly buried this memory for almost 20 years.
But in the last few days, something has been triggered and a dam has broken in my mind and I feel the thoughts and emotions rushing out. 


This started 2 weeks ago in the wake of the high profile rescue of hundreds of abducted persons from Sambisa forest many of whom were women and girls. A real miracle that our military was able to bring them out of the "lions den" alive. Being so far away in Europe, I wanted to enjoy the profound relief and feel the victory of this miracle, so I started reading and watching every news I could find about these women and girls.
But the heavy feeling of gloom came when I read the early statements of UNFPA that highlighted that many of the women and girls were pregnant and that what the women and girls needed as much as food and medicine was "psychotherapy and counseling".
Knowing the pro-abortion stance of UNFPA (which they do not hide), I was almost certain that they were signaling for a unanimous acceptance for abortion in this case.
Soon after, this statement sparked unbelievable agitation in the pro-abortion western countries as their  journalists weighed in on the matter . Their voices were unified. Their verdict was quick. Their version of justice in this particular case was for the provision of "safe-abortions" . Their only vision of peace was for the execution of these babies conceived in a most traumatic circumstance.
Many may recoil from my description of abortion as execution, but like it or leave it, abortion is the execution of the unborn child.

Abortion in every case, entails the poisoning, pulling out or dismembering the baby growing in the safe haven of the mother's womb. So it is an execution.

As it stands now, there is an ongoing debate throughout Nigeria as to whether abortion can be justified in this very difficult case or not, but I assure you that many people in the western world had already made up their minds about these babies mere hours after the rescue of the women and girls. They thought and talked about this ahead of us and they herded us to this heated point of discussion and disagreement.
It is at this heated point where emotions are high and thoughts are clouded, that something triggered and broke the dam of memory in my mind and flushed out the vivid thoughts of the Owerri-execution.

Thankfully, many Nigerians have advised against abortion, and in full disclosure I stand with them in this life-affirming and pro-life stance (and I will tell you why).
But , to my great sadness, I have read lately about some Nigerian NGO's and interest groups that are now advocating for the swift execution of these unborn babies, if the pregnant mothers choose not to carry their babies to term.
So the only way these babies can receive mercy is if their traumatized and deeply wounded mothers are able to choose life (instead of death for them).
I don't know about you, but if I was ever wounded and traumatized as these women were in that forest, if I had to face my death every single day, if I received absolutely no mercy from a group of terrorists, I may not be able to choose life for anyone let alone a child growing inside me.
I may not be able to give mercy when my wounds are still so fresh. But I will be completely dependent on my brothers and sisters to help me and strengthen me to show mercy and choose life for the tender unborn, and even when that fails, I will depend on my resilient community and the impeccable just life-affirming laws of our land to choose life on my behalf.

My dear people, no one may fully be able to understand the excruciating pain and trauma of these women but one thing we can do as a people and as a nation is to surround them with the most tender mercy that we can offer to them and yes to their unborn children who are also (in many ways) survivors.
We might not consider it fully at this point but we are a nation of mercy. We are nation that is fueled and functioning as a direct consequence of mercy. We are a nation that has received more mercy in our reserves than even petroleum!
Was it not only 10 or 11 months ago when the deadly Ebola virus struck us along slide 2 other West African countries? Was it not purely miraculous that our nation was spared the horrific road that the other Ebola-stricken nations had to travel? Were we any better than them or more worthy than them?
But yet we obtained inexplicable mercy. Thousands of lives were spared. And within mere weeks, to the great surprise of the entire world, we were declared Ebola-free. We received mercy.


In the last few years, we have woken up to the indescribable horror and terror of Boko Haram. And everyone of us will agree that their actions and operations are merciless, viscous and violent beyond words. And so we pray for an end to the death and destruction that they are dealing upon our country. We pray for mercy.
But if we are to receive mercy, are we not to show mercy?
This is why we as a nation and as a people must stand apart from the ways of the terrorists. Their merciless ways, their vicious actions, and their violent executions.
This is why Nigeria must show mercy today by refusing and rejecting the verdict of execution (by abortion) of these babies conceived in horror, terror and trauma.
Abortion is not for us or our children for it is a violent solution sanitized within the wounded heart of the western world and we just cannot accept it now or ever. Not even when it is offered as "justice".

This is an appeal from the heart of a woman who learnt almost 20 years ago that executions carried out to deliver justice might never deliver joy.
Our joy and healing will only be assured if we unconditionally and mercifully choose life for every man, woman and child (born and unborn) rescued from the den of our enemies.


Friday, 15 May 2015

Is LEGAL=SAFE ?

         

As International Planned Parenthood Federation (and other like-minded groups) continues to mount coordinated pressure on African nations for legal and "safe" abortion for women, we see them pouring astronomical amounts of money to grease corrupt palms, confuse undecided minds and harden unsuspecting hearts towards the unborn in various African countries. 
This is most unfortunate because throughout our Continent, there is a unanimous celebration of human life from the womb, there is a great recognition of motherhood and a love for family life. This  the African civilization of love. 
But all of this is under severe attack by the well-paid proponents of Abortion who have flown into Africa on the wings of wealthy, western pro-abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes and Ipas. 
In their own words, "African women should have the choice and access to legal and safe abortion". 
They speak with the unmistakable force and arrogance of 21st century imperialists as if legal automatically implies safety. 
In many parts of Africa where these organisations have spread their tentacles, they remain unchallenged and unquestioned. 
But today we ask them on behalf of millions of African people : does Legal mean "Safe" ? 

Of course not. 

Many thanks to the Freedom of Information Act in most western countries, we know for a fact that even in abortion facilities in the most developed countries like America, there are many reports of serious to life-threatening incidents like perforation of the uterus, severe bleeding and fatal infections directly resulting from their "legal and supposedly safe" abortions. 
One of the short audio clips posted , we can clearly hear a 911 emergency call made from a Planned Parenthood abortion business facility in Texas , USA. This is what a botched abortion sounds like. This is what a botched "legal" abortion sounds like... Perforation of the uterus which can (and has) lead to the needless deaths of young women who bought the lie of abortion.
Bear in mind that this kind of medical emergency following botched abortions is not rare. And bear in mind that this is happening in the United States of America.
 


At least their abortionists can fall back on 911 when they hurt women during abortions. The question is if this was happening in an African country, who will the abortionists call? 
How many cases of uterus perforation will we have daily ? 
How many cases of severe bleeding will happen daily?
How many deadly post-abortion infections will be recorded?
How many cases of dangerous incomplete misoprostol abortions will we have?
How many abortionists will grossly neglect the safety of women?
Remember, if they do not care about your baby, then they will not care for your body.

Dear International Planned Parenthood Federation , none of our African nations can afford to embrace or espouse your lie and fallacy of "Legal & Safe Abortion".  
We want to continue celebrating and respecting human life from conception,women's lives, motherhood, fatherhood and family life.Africa desires to remain Pro-Life and we understand that contrary to what you are saying to our leaders,  Legal ≠ Safe

Thursday, 30 April 2015

UN French Soldiers Rape African Boys in CAR

 

According to a recently leaked report entitled: Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, in order to receive food, young refugee boys in Central African Republic (CAR) were forced to let the French troops, who were working as UN peacekeepers in CAR, rape and sodomize them in the capital city Bangui. 
Reading this yesterday in an article by The Guardian filled me with sorrow and brought bitter tears to my eyes for so many reasons. 
I think of this mercilessly ravaged war-torn country in Africa that hasn't known much peace in recent years. I think of the destruction inflicted on the innocents by vicious warmongers and the unimaginable difficulties that must be the quotidian experience of the people of CAR. I try to think of the lack of food and hunger which is at a crisis level in this African country. Thinking about all of this one can begin to understand why the UN sent in their international Armed forces to help restore the nation from the clutches of war, to help restore peace, to help women and children get access to the limited food, water and medicine supplies. 
However, according to this leaked report, instead of helping the innocent to get access to basic necessities, some of the UN soldiers were "helping themselves" to the young boys- many of whom were homeless orphans. Some of the children described how they were sexually exploited in return for food and money. In this report a 9-year old boy described being sexually abused with his friend by two French soldiers at the camp when they went to a checkpoint to look for something to eat.
The presence of the UN troops in CAR should have been good news but instead it may now have led to profound affliction and damage for so many.
This report was made to the UN since July 2014 but nothing was heard of it. And when it was leaked, what did the UN do in quick retaliation? They suspended the person who leaked it! 
By the looks of it, the International community has chosen to elevate and celebrate the perverse homosexual lifestyle through out the world,  despite the mounting reports of child sexual abuse ,rape and paedophilia all inherently couched in the hedonistic homosexual culture. 
 I remember clearly that last year, the Ugandans complained (and continue to complain) about the seduction and recruitment of young innocent boys (by western gay men) into the demimonde of the homosexual lifestyle, they were shouted down by the loud and powerful voices from the west. So much so that Stephen Fry, a well-known British actor and gay-rights activist, came all the way to Kampala to confront the Ugadan Ethics Minister in his office. They continue to speak over the concern of the African people telling us that "no one is luring our young ones into this lifestyle", but here you have a UN report that details gross sexual abuses by UN French soldiers on boys as young as 9 years old. And what is more is that this doesn't seem to be the first of such occurrence as the UN has faced scandals and serious allegations of sexual misconduct by its troops in Burundi, Liberia and Haiti according to the referenced article by The Guardian.

What is even more painful is that in the last few years many African nations have been under severe pressure to fall in line and submit to the rainbow flag of the LGBT campaigns. Many of our African leaders have been harassed, embarrassed , threatened and even punished for refusing the virulent LGBT propaganda that is brewing in the heart of the western world. And at the UN gatherings most African nations continue to resist the powerful push in favour for SOGI (sexual orientation and Gender identity).
Many of us have come to realize, the totalitarianism of the LGBT culture leaves no room for objectors and its tyranny does not tolerate dissenters. Those who do not bow are bent and those who refuse to bend are broken against their will. 
And despite this reality of our world today, here is the unequivocal response from Africa ...We have chosen to object and dissent for the sake of the preservation of marriage, family, community and continuity of our race. We will stand and speak up clearly and coherently for our healthy Culture of Life, Marriage and Family. 
Therefore on this day, when such a heinous report is brought to light, we lament and reject this hedonistic culture which is unfortunately rocking and ravaging western countries in its vicious attempt to redefine human sexuality, marriage and family. 
On this day, we shed tears to know that the UN in its unflinching biased support for the LGBT propaganda has not acted fast enough and thoroughly enough to protect vulnerable, homeless , tender and innocent ones in CAR . 
Raise your voice with us today and ask the UN to walk away from its LGBT bias and make amends for the sexual wounds inflicted on the CAR boys by perverse French soldiers. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

International Prolife and Family Conference Ibadan




   PROTECTING GOD’S GIFTS OF LIFE & FAMILY 

In response to the encroaching Culture of Death, the increasing violation of the sanctity of human life around the world, and in line with Pope Francis’ call for the need to sustain and support marriage and family life, the Catholic Bishops, priests, religious and laity of the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria, convened  an International Pro-life and Pro-family conference from 13th to 15th of April 2015 with the theme Protecting Human Life and Family Values in the Rising Tide of the Culture of Death . 
This conference brought together about 1500 participants from every corner of the Ibadan province who benefited greatly from the wide array of topics pertaining to the issues of sanctity of human life and the defence  of marriage and family, presented by reputable pro-life and pro-family speakers,leaders, advocates, activists and researchers from Europe, America and Africa. 
Based on these discussions and presentations at the Conference, 
We hereby declare that :

i. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God. Life is God’s gift and this life begins at conception. Thus, every nation, every Institution, every man and woman must respect, protect and uphold the dignity of every human life from the moment of conception till its natural end. 

ii. Sacramental marriage is instituted by God as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, open to life and love . Thus, other forms of unions such as homosexual unions, polygamous unions, and adulterous unions are inimical to the mind of the creator. They undermine the integrity of the human being, the family and as such should never be promoted or supported in our society. 

iii. The family is the cradle where life is nurtured and protected. Thus, every family,with marriage at its core, must create a conducive environment where the inestimable value of life is emphasised and upheld. 

iv. Chastity and fidelity are core virtues that are indeed at the root of every Culture of Life and Civilization of love. Therefore they should be promoted in our society as a core aspect of pro-life and pro-family activism. 

v. Professional, men and women especially in the fields of medicine, sciences, law, politics, academia and media are obliged to use their experiences and expertise to promote and protect the sanctity of life, the dignity of human sexuality, the blessings of motherhood and the beauty of family-togetherness in our society. 

 We Decry: 

-The encroachment of the Culture of Death in many African countries. 
-the radical promotion of Abortion and contraception by various international organisations through international platforms and humanitarian aid. 
-the hyper-sexualisation of our youth through morally objectionable campaigns by these organisations.
-the intentional disregard for our cultural identity and values especially on issues relating to the sanctity of life and the dignity of human sexuality. 
-the persistent and pernicious attempts to impose population control on Africa by wealthy philanthropists, donor nations and international organisations. 
-the lack of emphasis on the importance of faith and family in human development, public education and in the social order. 

Pope Saint John Paul II clearly pointed out that "Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person's life.
To be truly a people at the service of life we must propose these truths constantly and courageously".[Evangelium Vitae 81-82]
On this note and strengthened by this message, we therefore invite every member of our human society to the noble service of constantly and courageously defending the sanctity of human life, marriage and family. With the hope that in so doing, we would stop the encroachment of the Culture of Death even as we have, through our conference, sown the seeds of an authentic Culture of Life for today and for the generations to come. 

Signed
Most Reverend Emmanuel Badejo
Bishop of Oyo
Chairman, Communications Department 
Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province Bishops Conference

Ms Obianuju Ekeocha 
Pro-Life Advocate & Biomedical Scientist 

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Shadows of "50 Shades of Grey" in Africa

By now, most people would have heard about the movie adaptation of the distasteful erotica novel - 50 Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James. This thinly veiled perverse glorification of sexual violence has now generated record sales around the world - 70 million copies and counting. This is probably why Hollywood rushed to latch unto this twisted and depraved appetite for sexual perversion. 

Some insightful articles have already been written about the demerits and detriments of this movie to the society at large. I highly recommend these thoroughly explanatory pieces that bring to the fore, all the socially and morally objectionable aspects of E.L James' 50 shades of Grey. 

This erotica tries to frame sadomasochism and sexual domination as a valid and normal expression of love. This plot in fact epitomizes, in all glitz and glam, the darkened thoughts of the violent rapist who believes that their cruel sexual violence is indeed enjoyable even for the one being violated.
This is dark and depraved. 

So with Africa always on my mind, I tried to find out if this movie had enough global ambitions to cast its shadows over the Continent of Africa. 
And to my great consternation, Africa has not escaped the grey shadows of this distasteful movie. 

Given the heartbreaking reality of the high rate of sexual violence and rape in South Africa (sometimes called the rape capital of the world) , one would think that the 50 Shades of Grey will not be shown here, but some insensitive South African cinema houses like the Ster-Kinekor Theatres have already advertised 50 Shades of Grey as the "hottest cinema experience of the year". I am sure that the hundreds of thousands of South African women who have been raped will testify that there is nothing "hot" about rape other than the excruciating hurt and humiliation a women feels when she is violated.

However, in the insatiable quest for money and business, Ster-Kinekor Theatres also have this movie showing all through this weekend in Namibia and Zimbabwe. And they have put so much efforts to lure as many women as possible to it.

In my country, Nigeria, we have this potent poison of sexual perversion being served to us by Silver Bird Cinemas at all their branches (Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt). 
All in time for Valentines, the Cinema entrepreneurs sell us perversion for peace, lust for love, rape for romance. For the thrill of their big ticket-sellouts , they are willing to throw Africa off the dangerous cliff of BDSM (Bondage-Dominance-Sadomasocism), as long as they can smile to the bank. 

Sexual bondage, handcuffs, blindfolds, whips, chains...these are some of the milder paraphernalia of the BDSM demi-monde which promises nothing but humiliation, manipulation, objectification, isolation and degradation of women (and men). 
This most unhealthy primitive perversion has not emanated from Africa. Ironically it has been formed and fashioned in the glamourous circles of the developed world. 
And I can say with all conviction that its darkness is as far removed from our African cultural heritage as one can imagine. Most African ethnic languages do not even have the words to describe this debased sexual sub-culture, this is why many Africans will just call it - Abomination. 

So I ask the burning question on my mind...how is it that these cinema houses are able to bring 50 Shades of Grey to our big-screens in Africa. 
Surely they have done so without going through the appropriate censorship and broadcasting boards.
Surely no African censorship board or commission will grant permission to this movie. Not when it has been rated "R" in the USA for "Strong sexual content , some unusual behaviour, graphic nudity and strong language". 

Surely these censorship bodies exist to carefully consider the contents of all public entertainment while bearing in mind the moral views and values of our society. 
Surely their duty is precisely to protect the African people from invasions of perverse ideologies woven into movies such as this one. 

Already the censorship commissions of Kenya and Uganda have risen to their full stature to protect their people from this putrid production. And for this, we applaud them. 


There is this constant rhetorical demand by various institutions for an end to sexual violence against African women, and almost every month some international organization or western nation is hosting a high-budget conference to bring attention to this issue. We see them spend a lot of money on colourful posters and media pieces. 
But in the spirit of consistency, one cannot call for the end of sexual violence in Africa with one hand and then stoke the flames of sexual perversion with the other hand. 

So, I call out to all African governments, women's organizations, human rights groups as well as all broadcasting and censorship commissions to carefully consider the corrosive effects that the 50 shades of Grey will have on the hearts and minds of millions of people across our Continent. 
African women deserve peace not perversion.
African women deserve love not lust. 
African women deserve romance not rape. 

So kick and keep these "50 Shades of Grey" out of our Africa !!!! 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Culture of Life Africa on Catholic Answers Focus


Catholic Answers Focus recently featured Culture of Life Africa as Uju was the guest of show host Patrick Coffin in the second half of the show.

It was an excellent interview that captures succinctly the on going battle to protect the pro-life and pro-family stance of the African people and it is a pleasure to share it with you . To listen to the interview click here .

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Greetings!

Merry Christmas to all the beloved friends of Culture of Life Africa who have walked with us throughout this year, accompanying us on the pro-life mission trail, encouraging us, speaking with us, speaking of us, sharing with us, giving to us, praying with us and praying for us. 
To you we extend our heart-felt gratitude. 
You have given us the will and courage to continue to grow stronger and more resolute in this pro-life mission for Africa. 

May this holy season of Christmas bring to you and yours God's great gifts of grace and goodness.
And may your life be filled with the peace and joy of our Lord in the days and years ahead.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Whose idea was it?



A "Family Planning" conference has just been concluded in Abuja, the capital of my country and what I found most remarkable about it was that this one conference attracted 11 very wealthy, and mostly western sponsors- DFID, USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, UNFPA etc. 
Very wealthy and indeed very western! 
Any one of them could have single-handedly sponsored a conference in any part of the world but to have 11 of these giants gather over one little conference in Nigeria is worth careful consideration. 
Along side these sponsors were also about 25 powerful organizations enlisting as the "corporate partners/planning committee" of the conference, these included major organizations well known in Europe and America for their single-minded radical pro-abortion and anti-life stance. These included organizations like International Planned parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes International, Ipas, Pathfinder and many others. 
Yes, all of them gathered in Abuja so as to nudge and prod Nigeria towards the direction of "family planning". 

Family Planning is a term that is  (or should be) self explanatory. It should mean the planning of one's family. It should be a term that by default points to married committed couples who have a family to plan. It should be family-centred and it should connote self-mastery and self-discipline (for every good plan should be undergirded by discipline) . Family planning. 
It should be a good,healthy, pure and beautiful concept. Couples, guided by the spirit of openness to love and life, can plan their family together while understanding that any life conceived by their union is a gift of enormous value. Family planning should be natural and healthy to both husband and wife. It should not be destructive or detrimental to health of mind and body (as many if not most of the artificial contraception available today can and often do cause much damage to health). 
Family planning should entail a lot of love, understanding, generosity of spirit, humility, patience, self-control, fidelity, communication, care and cooperation. All of these enrich the marital bond and strengthen the rich marriage and family-oriented culture that Nigeria already has.  

However, the "Family Planning" conference that was recently brought into Abuja (by mostly western actors) had very little or nothing at all to do with self-control or fidelity or patience or even marriage! On the contrary it had much to do with promoting a hedonistic, individualistic and selfish view of sex. 
The conference had a very unhealthy focus on normalizing sexual activities among the Nigerian youth outside the context of marriage. They had highly eroticized campaigns targeting the young. They had presentations on topics like "Addressing the Family Planning service needs of youth". 
Well, if they are youth, what need do they have for "family planning"? If they do not have a "family" then what exactly are they "planning"? What is so dire about the family planning needs of our young adolescents to warrant 11 powerful sponsors and 25 corporate partners? 

The truth is that the listed organizers, sponsors and planners of this conference are very much in tune with the FP2020 target and in step with the highly radicalized agenda of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) which is right now sweeping through the western world like a hurricane, destroying countless lives,  homes, marriages and families. 
They gather in our Capital with their "family planning" conference in order to disparage our widely held and shared cultural and religious views on life, love, marriage and family. It is an attack on the natural modesty and innocence of our youth who are vulnerable and so impressionable. 
This conference was not convened out of great necessity in my country and it was not conceived in Nigeria. Rather it was convened at the behest of the cultural imperialists who consider themselves our "betters" and it was conceived in the hearts of powerful western social engineers who are already well known for their commitment to the SRHR propaganda. They are the same people who are mindlessly promoting abortion around the world. They are the same ones who have paved the path for the ongoing LGBT revolution in the west. They are the same ones implicated in various draconian population control programs around the world. And yet, Nigeria opens the door to them. We acknowledge their "superiority" on matters of family life. We allow them access to our youth. We accept their poisoned gifts of contraceptives. We agree to their radical demands made in the spirit of social experimentation. 
If we do not wake up now, we will surely fall off a cultural cliff beyond which there is colossal and irreparable destruction of marriage and family life. 

I appeal passionately to my people, do not fall for the lies of misguided western ideologues. Instead, let us together as a people reconsider carefully and reflect deeply on the true meaning, purpose and implications of " Family Planning".  For this, we do not need wealthy sponsors, donors, partners and planners who have emerged from a broken world where the sanctity of human life is denied, where the law allows for the killing of the unborn, where sex outside of marriage has been normalized, where the divorce rates are staggering and the suicide rates are incredibly high. 
These, are the marks of failure etched on the faces of the same people bringing us the unsolicited gift of "family planning". 
If we are truly wise, we should not give them access to our intimate lives, our precious families, our innocent children and our cherished women. 
We may be poor but our dignity is ours, so let us not fail or fall for what the 21st century cultural imperialists have surreptitiously labelled as "family planning" or what they have cunningly called the most "unmet need" of Africa. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

STOP CHEMICAL WARFARE ON POOR WOMEN


STOP CHEMICAL WARFARE ON POOR WOMEN: ONE DOLLAR CONTRACEPTIVE?

Press Release by: Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) through its Health Committee has followed with keen interest the recent announcement by the trio of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Incorporated and Child Investment Fund Foundation on the roll out of the so-called one dollar injectable contraceptive “Sayana Press”. This easy-to-administer form of an old drug by Pfizer Incorporated is being hailed by many as the magic wand to reduce poverty and emancipate poor women in over 69 countries around the world especially in Sub Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The active chemical ingredient in Sayana Press is the synthetic analogue of the body biological messenger (hormone) known as progesterone. It is branded progestin-only contraceptive, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate ((Depo provera); a long acting hormonal birth control drug that is injected every 3 months. This medication was hitherto given by trained health workers. But the new packaging form makes it possible for literally any woman to self-inject the chemical agent.

In the current rage to promote and distribute Sayana Press to women in the poorest countries of the world including Nigeria, the whole facts about the drug are not being told to the unsuspecting consumers. For example, Depo provera has long been associated with serious side effects and health conditions that led to its ban in many developed countries. Specifically, the one dollar contraceptive can result to varying degrees of sterility, irregular menstrual periods, or no menstrual periods at all, high blood pressure, excessive weight gain (obesity), depression and nervous breakdown, hair loss, reduced libido with the associated marital disharmony and family breakdown, increased risks of cancers of the breast, cancer of the cervix (neck of the womb) and the ovary as well as loss of bone mineral mass resulting to easy-to-fracture weak bones (osteoposis). Other known side effects include acne, excessive hair growth of facial and body hair.

Given the many reported side effects of the main ingredient in the “one dollar injectable” contraceptive, we urge the Federal Ministry of Health, State ministries of health, the National Primary Health Development Agency as well as development support agencies to immediately halt the distribution of this harmful chemical to Nigerian women and in fact, all women across the world who now stand in danger of serious untoward effects from the drug.
On the contrary, we would like to reiterate the need and urgency for the promotion of the total health of families with particular respect to the procreative wellbeing of women and young adults. This can be realized through the universalization of natural methods of fertility management – Natural Family Planning (NFP). These methods which are based on the innate features of each woman’s reproductive biology are safe, cheap, easily learned and without the numerous adverse effects of artificial family planning chemicals and devices. Finally, NFP methods do not infringe against the faith, morals or cultures of communities across the world. They encourage communication, mutual respect and responsibility and effective male involvement, thus enhancing family unity, integrity and societal stability.
We firmly declare that this is not democratic and is even unethical to continue the agenda of throwing commodities with known dangers and potential risks at the vulnerable peoples of the world who are often uninformed about all the issues concerned.

We hereby call on all our agencies to study the issues thoroughly and deploy all media, grassroot/pastoral organs to correctly inform our people of the risks they run by patronising these means and methods. No one has a right to suspend parental guidance and spiritual care by the Church from the life of our people and especially the youth.
We call for vigilance from all stakeholders on these issues regarding human life and family.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Post-Plenary Communique of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference 2014


COMMUNIQUE OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE 2014 PLENARY ASSEMBLY HELD AT OSHIUMAN, ACCRA

(4TH - 15TH NOVEMBER, 2014) 
Theme: "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation"
Greetings
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ and all people of goodwill who live in our land, grace and peace of God the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its true name be with you! (Eph. 3:15).
We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, meeting in our 2014 Annual Plenary Assembly in Oshiuman, Accra, from 4th to 15th November, 2014, send you our greetings of peace and blessing.
Gratitude
We give thanks to God for His grace and mercies for guiding us through the events of the past year during which as a Church we successfully organised a Second National Pastoral Congress in Sunyani to chart a new path of evangelisation for our Church’s mission in Ghana. We also recall with gratitude to God our successful Ad Limina Visit to Rome this year during which we met the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to give an account of our stewardship. These graces of God to the Church, coupled with the fact that our country, Ghana, continues to enjoy peace and good will among the comity of nations, invite us to give praise to God.   We encourage all citizens to continue to seek the face of God and offer fervent prayers for our dear Nation and the Church.
Theme of this year’s Plenary
The theme of this year’s plenary Assembly is, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”.  This theme was inspired by the just-ended Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family held in Rome, from 5th to 19th October, 2014 to consider the pastoral challenges that the family faces today. Our deliberations on this theme were preceded by four days of prayer and reflection, at the end of which we wish to present to you and to the good people of Ghana and the world at large the following pertinent teachings on the family.
The Church’s Teaching on the Family
The Church’s perennial and unchanging teaching on the family is based on the nature of man but especially on Scripture and Sacred Tradition namely, that God ordained marriage to be between man and woman, when “God made them male and female and blessed them”. God also intended marriage to be open to life when, “He blessed them and said increase and multiply” (Gen. 1:27-28).  Furthermore, God determined marriage to be indissoluble as Jesus affirmed, “What therefore God has put together, let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).

The Church’s consistent teaching on the importance of marriage and family life as revealed in Sacred Scripture is also emphasised in the Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes (GS), for instance, speaks about the dignity of marriage and family life (cf. GS 47-52), defining marriage as a community of life and love and placing love at the nucleus of the family (Eph. 5:25).
God the Creator, by forming the first man and woman and commanding them to be fruitful and to multiply (Gen. 1:28) definitively established the family to be a permanent union between one man and one woman. Consequently, the family becomes the sanctuary where life is born, nurtured and welcomed as a gift of God. By matrimonial covenant which the Lord Jesus raised to the dignity of a sacrament, a man and a woman come together to establish between themselves a relationship of love which by its very nature is ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. This covenant of love consequently takes the character and effect of unity, indissolubility, fidelity and openness to life. Marital love also requires the fidelity of the spouses flowing from the gift of oneself to one’s lawful spouse (cf. Eph. 5:32).
Church as Family of God
The Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa (The Church in Africa) adopted a new image of the Church: Church-family of God (Ecclesia in Africa, 63). This image emphasizes our common origin and destiny as Children of God (Eph. 3:14). The African cherishes the family as the fundamental base of humanity and of society. As a family, respect, sense of belonging and care for one another are our values. Like the African family, the Church always aims at building up her members, to uphold her image and reinforce her values of care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust (Ecclesia in Africa, 63). This explains why the Church is appreciated as a gift from God given to building the Kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace here on earth and in Ghana (Africae Munus 7).
The Family as Subject of Evangelisation
The Fathers of Vatican II rightly noted that evangelisation first takes place in the family, as parents “by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children” (Lumen Gentium 11). It is in the family that children first learn about God, love of neighbour and the Church. As such, parents are indispensable in sharing the faith with their children.  Parents are to assist children to make the appropriate choices at the different stages of their lives. 
Challenges of the Family
Today, the family is undergoing significant challenges that rock the very foundation on which God has set the human society. These crises manifest themselves in very many ways.
Philosophy of Relativism and the Family
We are witnessing today the emergence of a new reality that defines man as a free individual with the license to do whatever she/he pleases.  Unfortunately, this reality has crept into the traditional Christian concept of the family, redefining marriage to be a free union between any two people who are attracted to each other whether they are of the same sex or not. The new reality exhorts humans to give free expression to their sexual feelings in all manner of ways. Some people suppress the words, “husband” and “wife,” “father” and “mother” in favour of words such as “partner”, “companion”, etc. The attempted redefinition of these words distorts and clouds the true meaning of marriage. 
Negative Media Portrait of Marriage
The media has become a major source of influence in the way young people conceive marriage. They amplify failing and failed relationships between males and females and further celebrate their separation. Ghanaian young people continually keep themselves updated on the marital mishaps of celebrities, get exposed to explicit immoral scenes in movies and the internet and come to associate human sexuality with a certain casualness and irresponsible experimentation. It therefore makes it easy to treat one’s partner merely as an object of self-gratification. Regrettably, the many good examples of faithful couples are either ignored or not reported by the media. 
Infidelity of Couples
Some Christian men and women, especially those who indulge in casual and pre-marital sex, do not develop the critical awareness of their changed status once they get married. They continue to maintain sexual relations with other men and women outside their marriage. Such betrayal often leads to the break-up of many marriages.
Domestic Violence in Marriage
Domestic violence is a real issue in many Ghanaian homes and is suffered by both men and women. While some wives are battered into silence and therefore live in perpetual fear of their husbands, some husbands are also unable to come home after work for fear of their wives. This often leads some men and women into alcoholism and some enter into amorous relationships with other women and men. The work place, the market and even at times, the Church, have become the refuge for some men and women escaping the hazards of domestic violence. In some cases, innocent children and house helps fall victim to this violence.
Pressures on Marriage and Families
Many a couple has challenges with building their lives together in intimate relationship due to pressures of work.  The phenomenon where couples are regularly absent from the marital home due to work and education does not help in the stability of the marriage.  Children become the ultimate victims in the event of divorce.  Furthermore, demands from either partner’s family for assistance most often incur the displeasure of the other spouse. Some husbands and wives find it difficult relating well to the families of their spouses.  This often creates resentment and may lead to divorce.
In addition, when marriage has been for some time without children, there is always pressure brought to bear on the man but most often on the woman. For many Ghanaian communities, it is only when a child is born to the couple that the marriage is seen as consolidated and no explanation to the contrary is good enough. In some extreme cases, some women, unable to bear the pressure are actually known to have allowed their husbands to marry another woman and get children by her. Such arrangements apart from being wrong and opposed to the teaching on Christian family often result in disaster and tragedy.
Inequality in Marriage
Ghanaian Christians have to be educated out of their belief in the inequality of husband and wife. Most of us in Ghana live in male-dominated societies which believe in the superiority of the man over the woman.  As such, the Christian doctrine on the equality of husband and wife is a teaching that some find difficult to accept. The traditional Ghanaian male believes that the woman is inferior to the man in marriage.  We observe the phenomenon of polygamy among our Christian faithful as some men prefer to marry more than one woman. This is due to the Ghanaian culture which seems to condone polygamy.  These notions are wrong and ought to change.
Bridewealth in Marriage
The issue of bridewealth (also known in some societies as dowry) and its significance for marriages also needs to be addressed. Even though most Christians would not accept the complete abolition of the bridewealth because of its significance for the stability of the marriage, we must do away with the excesses that are making it difficult for poor people to marry. Furthermore, one cannot deny completely the fact that the payment of the bridewealth in some cultures is partially to blame for the low place we give the woman in her marital home and the society at large. An effective evangelisation of our Christian families will base family life on the love that bonds the couple together and not on the bridewealth. 
Cohabitation/Concubinage
We bemoan the practice of cohabitation or concubinage in which couples that have performed the customary marriage see no need to go ahead to regularise their marriages. We call for an end to this practice. Reasons such as the need to study each other, lack of funds to celebrate the marriage, among others, do not hold any significance. For in such a practice, not only do the couples fail to make God the centre of their marriages but they also cut themselves off from the Eucharist as the source of their spiritual sustenance.
Socio-political Challenges to the Family
What compounds these challenges to the family are other serious socio-economic and political problems in our society. Our beloved country, Ghana as a family is beset with the nagging problem of polarization along political and tribal lines. We experience the politicisation of almost every national issue, and a growing religious and political intolerance. We see also the lack of the fear of God and ostentation in our body politic and social fabric. There is deceit, commercialization of religion and the “hijacking” of some religious and opinion leaders to divide and rule the society. All of these are bad examples for our children and youth.  That is why we strongly deplore this state of affairs in our nation and urge all Ghanaians to desist from them and come together to address these evils. 
We also deplore in no uncertain terms a radical and faceless culture of death which promotes among other things the supply and use of the condom in our schools, the in vitro fertilization and the contraception agenda of some national and international institutions in Ghana. Painfully, some Ghanaian homosexual and pro-abortion groups, and even our Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection overtly and subtly support these international organizations. We wish to draw the attention of all Ghanaians to this dangerous “culture of death” being imposed on us and call on all Ghanaians to forcefully reject this so-called freedom which indeed is suicidal. Further, we urge those who represent Ghana at the United Nations and other such bodies to realise that these practices are culturally abominable and morally and spiritually reprehensible.  We therefore urge them to refrain from endorsing such disastrous protocols on our behalf. Whenever they do sign such protocols, they betray the trust the good people of Ghana have vested in them. We are to remind ourselves of the well known fact that a nation that kills its unborn babies has no future.
Ghana’s Economy and the family
The current state of the Ghanaian economy is of concern to all of us and affects the family adversely.  We are witnessing a consistent high cost of living, hyper-inflation, a depreciating cedi and high cost of goods and services. We bemoan the fact that Ghana’s economy is fast becoming one of “buying and selling.”  Unbearably high taxes are causing many nascent private businesses to fold up. At the same time, we are not seeing aggressive efforts to set up more industries to take care of rising youth unemployment and low levels of development.  We join our voices to those of the many Ghanaians who disapprove of the importation of furniture from China for our Parliament when made-in-Ghana furniture could have been patronized to boost the furniture industry and the economy as a whole. Economic practices such as these, impact negatively on most families, leading to despair, poverty, sense of abandonment and marginalization. They threaten the stability of families making it difficult for them to actually live out their expectations as Christian families.
We note the various efforts of government, aimed at improving the economy, including the ongoing discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Senchi Consensus. We can only hope that these interventions will lead to economic transformation that will arrest the rising spate of youth unemployment and low levels of development. We pray that our own home-grown economic policies such as those implemented under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Authority (GYEEDA) and the Youth Enterprise Support (YES) may be led by qualified and competent persons. These policies should be given the utmost priority over externally-funded support programmes. Our experience is that externally-funded economic interventions almost always lead to unbearable consequences on citizens.
Corruption and the Family
We have time and again spoken about the twin-evil of bribery and corruption in Ghana but we regret to note that these evils continue to ravage every fabric of the Ghanaian society. Present-day Ghana is openly and pervasively corrupt. People at all levels of society, including some Christians, are engaged in naked corruption with impunity. We commend the Government for the recent prosecution of some high level personalities in government and for setting up various Commissions of enquiry into alleged corrupt practices at high levels. We do think, however, that our Government could do more to nip this canker in the bud. Certainly, individuals and private businesses should do their part to end corruption in our country. Reports of corruption from the media and on-going national commissions of enquiry such as the Judgment Debts, GYEEDA and SADA, National Service Scheme and the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as allegations of corruption in CHRAJ are worrying. We decry the mismanagement and apparent failure of these programmes and institutions and call on Government to do all it can to ensure that they deliver on their mandate. We also expect Government to act without fear or favour in dealing with those who will be found culpable in the reports of the on-going investigations. 
We urge the financial institutions, especially the banks, to beware of money laundering and the reported cases of cheating unsuspecting clients by some unscrupulous workers in the banks and financial institutions. We appeal to the Bank of Ghana to come to the aid of all those who loose their monies through some failed microfinance institutions.
Greed breeds hard-heartedness, theft, blackmail, bribery and corruption and even murder. Corruption encourages and condones incompetence, mediocrity at work and disrespect for higher authority as well as unnecessary bureaucracy. It drives away investment and leads to unnecessary suffering and poverty.  We therefore call on all Ghanaians to make a serious self-examination of conscience concerning bribery and corruption and repent. We must all resolve from today never to engage in acts of bribery and corruption or condone the same.
 Road Accidents and the Family
We have observed with growing concern the increasing rate of preventable fatal accidents on our roads. Roads in many parts of the country are deplorable and those in better shape are not properly marked or sign-posted. According to the national Roads Safety Commission in 2013, about two thousand people lost their lives in road and transport accidents. The trend for this year suggests that we may exceed this figure by the end of the year if we do not make immediate and radical changes in the way we use our roads. The lasting trauma and the other untold hardships to the bereaved families are obvious. The country in turn loses its precious citizens and becomes poorer.
 We therefore urge all Ghanaians, especially transport owners, all drivers and other road users, as a matter of urgency, to exercise maximum vigilance and abide by all road and transport regulations. Passengers and pedestrians should protest, and try to restrain and report all drivers who drive carelessly to the appropriate authorities. Further, we urge all our priests and ministers of other religions to use the pulpit to educate and remind their followers about the do’s and don’ts on our roads. All in Ghana need to know that the fatal accidents on our roads are neither the will of God for us nor due to our destiny. Rather, they are the result of our own carelessness and indiscipline. God has given us the responsibility to prevent these accidents from happening.
 Strike Actions and the Family
As Pastors of God’s people, we cannot remain unconcerned about the spate of strike actions which have hit our country recently. We wish to call on the Government and Organised Labour to always use dialogue and negotiations in dealing with labour disputes and agitations. We are prepared to play a mediation role in the resolution of the ongoing impasse among the parties.
 The Threat of Ebola, Cholera and the Family
We regret that the Ebola Viral Disease which has hit the West African region, especially Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, has so far claimed more than 5,000 lives. We pray for the families which have lost their loved ones and ask that intensive prayers be offered for an end to this scourge, even as we urge all Ghanaians to continue to observe all health safety precautions and to refer to and abide by the instructions we issued on the Ebola disease just last August.  On cholera, we urge the continued observance of hygienic conditions to completely deal with it and prevent its recurrence. We appeal to all Ghanaians to take seriously the directives by the Ministry of Health on how to prevent these diseases.
 New Policy Considerations in Education and the Family
We learn that the Ministry of Education is in the process of proposing a new consolidated bill on Education which aims at effectively decentralizing education service delivery and management. We are not opposed to education reforms but feel the need for broad-based consultation on such reforms, especially with all major stakeholders including the Church. Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have the most natural and divine obligation to educate their children in schools and institutions of their choice. This inalienable right has been significantly usurped by the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS), a system we continue to decry for reasons many Ghanaians are beginning to understand.   Parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. We therefore call on Government to be transparent on any on-going policy considerations on education reforms. We urge the Government to expedite action on the formalization of the Partnership Agreement on Education submitted by Religious and Other Bodies whose schools are in the public system.
Some Pastoral Recommendations for Marriage and Family Life
In the face of these and other formidable challenges to the family and our society, we, your Pastors exhort you our Faithful to be responsible citizens and to be loyal to what Scripture and the Church teach about the family and marriage.
 Given the demands of married life, we exhort all who are called by God to this vocation to prepare themselves adequately. We call on the National Catechetical Commission to develop a structured and sustained programme of on-going formation for prospective and married couples.
We encourage the formation of Christian Family Movements to promote Christian marriage. Further, we propose a Family Week to be celebrated annually and we urge all Priests, Religious and Laity to observe this week as such.  We equally call on our priests and religious to recognize that home visitation to families is part of their ordinary pastoral duties. We urge all Parishes and Dioceses to create occasions for the unmarried, especially the youth, to come together for retreats, workshops etc., to prepare for their life’s vocations. 
Formators in our major seminaries and other formation houses should continue to deepen candidates’ knowledge in marriage and family life, while priests and religious in the field should equip themselves with periodic on-going pastoral formation and study sessions to keep abreast of Church teaching on marriage.
 We ask the whole Church to show special love and attention to childless couples.  The marriages of spouses to whom God has not granted children should radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality and of sacrifice.
 Commendation of Faithful Couples and Families
We, your Shepherds, commend the good work of all faithful couples who witness to family values inspired by the Gospel in spite of the many challenges. We call on all pastoral agents to give special attention to the family in their ministry, especially to families in distress. Let all parents and guardians take their responsibility more seriously, mindful of the fact that they are the very first agents of the human and religious formation of their families and society at large. As your Pastors, we pledge to continue to work with our pastoral agents and the State to ensure that the fundamental human values, such as belief in God, the respect for life, the virtues of sincerity, honesty and hard work, are acquired first from the home.
Conclusion
The Church will continue to proclaim the unwavering truth that monogamy is what God has ordained and that polygamy is contrary to conjugal love and incompatible with the unity of marriage. She will continue to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman and not people of the same sex.  The Church will also continue to teach that divorce from a living and lawful spouse is not permitted by the Church because it separates what God has joined together. She suffers with those who are not admitted to communion due to their marital status and will continue to journey with them in the faith to encourage them not to despair. 
It is without doubt that the family of today faces formidable pastoral and socio-economic challenges which threaten its fundamental role as the basic unit of society and the Church. We your Pastors assure all families of our encouragement and prayers in the face of these challenges. We call on all Christians and people of goodwill to continue to be strong and committed to the family.
May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, continue to intercede for all families and for all of us. May the God of all consolation and peace fill you with His grace and peace (1 Cor. 1:3).
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG &
PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE