Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Do We Go From Here?
November 20 14:07 2014 Print This Article

Matters Arising
Reflections by Bishop Emmanuel Ade Badejo
Bishop of Oyo Diocese

I am certain that no one sitting here today is oblivious of the Church’s new energy in respect of Pro Life and Family issues especially in Africa. The Nigerian Bishops’ Conference in June 2014 hosted an International Pro-life and Family Life Conference (first of its kind in Africa) which caught the attention of the Catholic World. The Eternal Word Television Network, EWTN, recently aired an hour program on the event and that conference is already inspiring other African Countries to do a similar thing. In local focus, the Ibadan Provincial Bishops Conference has asked Bishop Jude Arogundade and me to organize a trickle down conference on the same theme for our Province in order to raise the awareness and commitment of all Clergy and Laity to Family and Pro-Life issues.

The Vatican recently concluded a “shadow Synod” in preparation for the fuller Synod on the family billed for next year 2015. The controversy generated by that “shadow Synod” itself shows how critically divisive and controversial, issues of the family have become even in the Church. At the event in Rome, the representative of the CBCN, its President, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama of Jos shone like a million stars. Armed with the rich reflections and perspective of the CBCN from the Abuja Conference, he defended the Pro-life stance of the Nigerian Church and cultures. He was richly commended by those who believe in the mission of Jesus and the sacred character of human life and the Christian family

However the battle for the protection of human life and family in these Western world-oriented times is far more complex and often even life-threatening. I read, recently on BBC about the mass supply of a so-called “1 dollar contraceptive injection” for women extended to 69 poorest countries in the world including Nigeria by Pfizer and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. These people are not supplying malaria drugs or vitamins against kwashiokor, nor are they supplying educational materials, nor the wherewithal for better housing for all but contraceptives… They are poised to distribute these, the idea having been accepted by our government, through local governments and other grassroots private organizations so that it can reach everyone. Not knowing the full truth about this “Greek gift”, many ordinary women have hailed this wonderful opportunity for them to avoid “unwanted pregnancy” as a wonderful new phase in maternal healthcare. This is because the powerful lobbies who promote the culture of death by advocating contraception, abortion and condoms as a means of population control never tell the whole truth about the side effects of what they offer. In fact at the moment there is a massive campaign in the media to advertise and celebrate all sorts of new devices that “liberate” women in Africa and try hard to portray religion and culture as the greatest obstacles to the access of women to these “wonderful new discoveries”.

Sane and morally-oriented experts have however pointed out that the new injections are so powerful and toxic that some women after 4 doses are not only contracepted for a few weeks by each dose but are completely sterilized for life. Besides the false sense of safety from pregnancy has provoked in countries where this injection has been tested, a sharp increase in the incidence of HIV aids. this is because with this sense of safety which eliminates responsibility for intercourse, many people have sex with more people than they normally would. This is being vigorously promoted as if pregnancy were a disease that people need to be cured of. The truth is that much serious research has demonstrated that DEPOPROVERA as it is also called, is dangerous to health, causing cancer, tumour and all sorts of ailments and rejected in Western countries but they still unleash it on Africans. Need I even mention its negative implication for spiritual and moral health of our people?

Such news can be pretty depressing for discerning minds. As priests committed to the Gospel of Life I think that we need to “raise alarm” and raise the awareness of our people especially at the grassroots and educate them about the TRUTH of these “aids and grants” from the West. The self-inject contraception, if people knew the truth about it is one that they should be demonstrating on the streets for and against which Press Conferences should be held all over Africa. This very controversial “gift” also sometimes called Depoprovera has been linked to so many medical consequences including HIV infection. Many African countries have simply swallowed all these means of population control and erosion of morality hook line and sinker because of the conditions attached… more money, more grants, more publicity for leaders etc. Uganda recently had to reverse itself on a similar policy in order to be eligible for a 250 million dollar or so grant.

Obianuju Ekeocha, coordinator and founder of Culture of Life Africa, who helped us organize the first African Pro Life/Family conference in Africa in June was, on the strength of that activity, invited to address the Ghana Bishops’ Conference 2 weeks ago. She told me how oblivious the Church hierarchy there is about the nuances and half truths that cover a pervasive promotion of the culture of death in Ghana even right inside the Church, because of this culpable compliance, Ghana gets more positive media coverage and economic aid than Nigeria. This puts a lot of pressure on the Nigerian government. Given the economic dire straits in developing countries at the moment if we do not speak out with everything we have and encourage our people to do the same, this immoral but soft option might be too strong a temptation for our governments and leaders to resist.

The same lady addressed secondary school students in Ghana and they knew far more about sexual/reproductive activities and offers of the promoters of condoms and contraception than the Bishops’ Conference. I had a similar experience in my own secondary school 4 weeks ago at the birthday lecture for Bishop Adelakun where we reflected on obstacles to Evangelization today. I pointed out that the, media, obsessed with Western and anti Christian values, and the encroaching, pervasive culture of death are veritable obstacles to evangelization. We may think people are listening to the word of life but many are actually knowingly or unknowingly agents of the culture of death. After the lecture an independent member of the audience corroborated my intervention. Being a member of staff with the Federal Health Ministry in Public Health she told me that many of our youth in secondary schools do come to the health offices to request various kinds of family planning.

My friends we as agents of the Gospel cannot pretend that this is outside of our purview. If Jesus came to give life and life to the full the spiritual and physical safety of our people should be a matter for serious concern to everyone of us. The Church is not against family planning but it must be natural. This has been scientifically proven to be effective, safe and practicable. The problem is that it is no longer known, taught or appreciated by even Church leaders anymore. and most of our people are oblivious of its functioning. At the moment in Oyo diocese 35 families are undergoing training over three periodic sessions to become Trainers of Trainers in understanding and practicing the Billings method and what has come to be tagged “Responsible Parenthood” under no less a person than Sr Leonie McSweeney herself. Other dioceses could act differently but act we all must to inform, train and protect our people. I daresay we must even begin to speak about these things from the pulpit as well. There must be other ways of playing our part a few of which are stated below. We just must do all we can to justify our calling as agents of life and family. Perhaps we can start a “No to Artificial Contraception Prayer Campaign”/ Group? How can we educate our people better especially our youth and young families to know the truth and protect their lives and discern between good and bad effective from today? (1Thess 5: 1ff). How can we deploy all the forms of media available to us to pass across our objection to the culture of murder and our staunch support for the Gospel of life? Of course with the Catholic Church, endorsing premarital sex is out of the question. Pitiably, I have met a few Priests and Religious who feel that we are fighting a losing battle and simply give up addressing this matter altogether.

I feel shame for such a disposition and I disagree. Moral Theology, if I am right, teaches us that we are duty bound to preach and pursue truth and holiness of life even when we are indicted by our own very messages in that regard. If you think that Boko Haram and ISIL are the only terrorist groups around in our world today, I say you are wrong. Get some illumination! The promoters of contraceptives, abortion, euthanasia and all anti-life activities are terrorists as well and are even more dangerous. Their weapons do not explode in our faces or bring blood to our television screens or newspaper pages. They are neatly and nicely packaged as good for all and offered to our children and friends and members in the homes schools and even churches. Their products are offered in half-truths, innuendos, and outright falsification of facts. We cannot sit by and let it all go on without an effort. Let us get familiar with the documents of the Church, the Popes and the Fathers of the Church. I also refer you to the websites of the Vatican, Culture of Life Africa www.cultureoflifeafrica.org and Dialogue Dynamics, www.dialoguedynamics.com , 2 NGOs that have done an awful lot to raise our awareness to these evils and similar websites and sources. Perhaps they may convince and inform you better than I have done. This is my submission asking you all to do more research and spread the “fight”. Remember that such issues of morality and spirituality are our primary space of influence and calling. We have nothing to lose by doing so and everything to lose by not doing so..By the way, do not get discouraged by evil that has already happened, let us simply get up and work on whatever we can still salvage… remember, others are working and so is the Holy Spirit , the one by which Jesus said the powers of darkness shall not prevail. Thank you for your attention. God bless you all and bless our Church. Amen

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