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Archbishop: Abortion Crushes African Culture. Continent's Challenge Is Defense of Life
VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Abortion is foreign to the African culture, and the attempt to promote it destroys the continent's fundamental values, according to the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Archbishop Robert Sarah spoke of the steps taken to liberalize abortion laws in Africa at a 5-day meeting in the Vatican that ended Wednesday.

The 15th Missiology meeting, titled "Mission Today -- Between Spirituality and Bioethical Challenges" was organized by Father Giuseppe Buono of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions and Patrizia Pelosi. Participants studied ethical challenges like abortion, plans to reduce birthrates, sterilizations and the proclamation of the Gospel of life in mission territories, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Archbishop Sarah, former archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, strongly condemned attempts to liberalize abortion in the African continent.

He noted that at the Summit of the African Union in Maputo, on July 11, 2003, African countries adopted the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which authorizes abortion. The Maputo Protocol became effective on Oct. 26, 2005, after having acquired the necessary approval from at least 15 countries.

Today, 38 countries have subscribed to the protocol, and 16 have approved it. Libya, Rwanda and Senegal ratified the protocol but expressed reservations about the article on abortion.

Archbishop Sarah said that Africa's challenge for the third millennium is combining mission work with the promotion of the defense of life.

Contraceptive imperialism

The secretary of the evangelization congregation also recalled that in 1994 the Holy See condemned "contraceptive imperialism" at the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.

"Abortion is far from African culture and people," affirmed Archbishop Sarah, "and the bishops' conferences of various countries are criticizing the Maputo protocol."

Protests against the protocol have come from the bishops of Uganda, Mozambique and from the Association of the Bishops Conferences of Central Africa.

According to a report by the FIDES news agency, the bishops of Burundi, Rwanda and Congo wrote that they "thought the protocol pretends to preserve African values like legality, peace, freedom, dignity and justice, contrary to that, the Maputo Protocol destroys African values in general and those of the woman in particular."

The association of bishops from central Africa affirmed that: "They are trying to align Africa and African women with concepts foreign to African culture: the refusal of motherhood, likened to slavery, the right to abortion as an affront to the right to life of the unborn child, hedonism and sexual freedom, the right to freely enjoy one's own sexual life whatever the sexual orientation.

"This protocol is the slow but sure destruction of fundamental African values: respect for life, the importance of the family, motherhood, fertility and marriage. All of these values are ignored by the protocol."

Archbishop Sarah concluded his discourse explaining that "to save Africa we need to reject these plans of death, and support the work of missionaries with prayer, in silent listening to God and education."