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Out of Africa

June 28, 2007

Can Catholics in the West learn something from Catholics in Africa? Even though Cardinal Arinze is an important and influential leader in the Church, it seems, on the most part, Africa is ignored by us. Why is it? Are we too focused upon our own immediate surroundings that we don’t take the time to explore what is happening in the wider world?

Whatever the reason, monumental events are going on in Africa, and Catholic Bishops are making valiant struggles for human rights. We can see, for example, that there are some people trying to force abortion-rights in Kenya. They held a mock trial in Nairobi, claiming to show the “consequences” of the criminalization of abortion. The Catholic hierarchy provided a rather intelligent response (and one which we, in Western nations, need to ponder): “”A state which legalizes abortion most definitely abdicates a very basic reason for its own existence.”

This one sentence should make Catholics in Western nations pause. Is this statement true? What consequences are there if it is? What can this suggest about Western nations policing the world if they have legalized abortion?

Kenya is not the only African nation struggling to keep abortion illegal. Mozambique is facing the same debate, where non-governmental agencies are trying to force change. When we look at what is causing all of this, we can see that the liberalization of abortion in South Africa has helped create a firestorm in the region; the claim is it has “saved many lives” and so other nations should follow this “glorious” example.

Of course it is the same kind of rhetoric we hear in the West. Killing someone is fine as long as it saves lives – you can even kill more lives than those who are saved, as long as the lives being killed are marginalized in one fashion or another: we see this when people say things like “it’s a fetus, not human”, or “it’s an Iraqi, not an American.”

Orwell would be sad.

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