PRO-LIFE CONFERENCE (AUGUST 7-8, 2015) KEY-NOTE ADDRESS BY MOST REV. ANTHONY ADANUTY, BISHOP OF KETA-AKATSI
PRO-LIFE CONFERENCE (AUGUST 7-8, 2015)
KEY-NOTE ADDRESS BY MOST REV. ANTHONY ADANUTY, BISHOP OF KETA-AKATSI AND VICE PRSEIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
ON THE THEME:
“PROTECTING LIFE AND FAMILY VALUES IN THE CONTINUING CULTURE OF DEATH”
Prof. D. D. Kuupole, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast and Chairman for this occasion,
Your Excellency, Most Rev. Jean Marie Speich, Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana,
Your Excellencies, My Lord Bishops/Archbishops,
Your Excellencies, Heads of Churches and Leaders of the Islamic Community here present,
Honourable Ministers and Parliamentarians,
Distinguished Invited Guests and Dignitaries,
Men and Women of the Media,
All protocol observed,
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It gives me great joy and pleasure to be invited to address this Pro-Life Conference and to give the Keynote Address on the theme, “Protecting Life and Family Values in the Continuing Culture of Death”.
The decision to hold this Conference was taken by the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference at our 2014 Annual Plenary Assembly held here in Accra. During that meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the October 2014 Synod of Bishops in Rome which examined the vocation and mission of the family in the modern world and the threats which impede the family in its quest to fulfill this mission and vocation. We also listened to two experts involved in the culture of life in and outside Africa recount their stories of the gradual encroachment of the culture of death in Africa and realized that there was an urgent need to bring the issue of life’s defence and protection to the attention of both our government and citizens for our joint consideration and action.
The Gospel of life and Pro-Life Activism
As Christians, we believe that every human being is born in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-28) and called to share in the life of the Creator – God. This supernatural vocation of man shows that life is sacred and inviolable. Human life is truly of a great and inestimable value. It is the duty of the Church therefore to teach all humanity to understand the value of life and defend and protect it at all times. The teaching of the sacredness and inviolability of human life and the need to uphold this teaching constitutes the Gospel of life which the Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted to the Church. The Gospel of life is the proclamation of the good news that life is sacred right from conception to its natural end. It aims at urging every nation, every institution, every man and woman to respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life at all times.
It is to be noted that present in the world today are a number of crimes and attacks directed against human life. These crimes and attacks against human life manifest themselves in whatever is opposed to life itself such as genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful destruction; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation and torments inflicted on body and mind; whatever insults human dignity such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the trafficking of women and children and disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than free and responsible persons.
These threats against human life constitute a supreme dishonour to the Creator and His gift of life to us. But unfortunately, far from decreasing, these threats against life are expanding with each passing day. This is the concern of the Church and we think it must be the concern of everyone of us.
The Presence/Activities of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Groups in Ghana and Beyond
Over the years but most especially in recent times, Africa in general and Ghana in particular, have witnessed the increasing encroachment of the proponents of the culture of death. These proponents of the culture of death are present in Africa and Ghana for that matter, in the shape of international “Family Planning” Organisations and philanthropists who under the guise of population control and sexual and reproductive health rights are promoting artificial means of birth control such as abortion, sterilization, the use of condoms, among others. They are well-funded foreign lobbyists who are pushing African governments to legalise abortion and homosexuality on the continent.
In Ghana as elsewhere, heavy pressure is being brought upon our government by these external donor organisations currently present and working in our country, to back pro-choice and the agenda of the sexual revolution. In some hospitals, schools, villages and towns in Ghana, there is an increased campaign for the use of condoms and other contraceptives as well as the practice of abortion, homosexuality, the sale of ova and semen, all under the guise of sexual and reproductive health rights.
I remain optimistic that speakers at this Conference will elaborate on these issues in their various presentations but it suffices to say that the activities of these so-called family planning organisations and groups constitute worrying trends for our nation and if care is not taken, Ghana risks the danger of promoting sexual immorality among its teeming population, especially the youth.
The time has therefore come for the Church in Ghana to partner with other Churches, and with the Muslim community as well as Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations to advocate and speak with one united voice in defence of life and family values in an effort to stem the tide of the emerging culture of death in Ghana.
The Role of Stakeholders
The promotion of the culture of life in response to the emerging culture of death is not a one-man business but requires the joint effort and action of all like-minded organisations including Churches, Islamic communities, government, politicians, civil society, academia, the mass media, among others.
- The Role of the Church
The Church must lead the efforts in renewing a pro-life mission in Ghana and the world at large and in calling on contemporary society to a deeper reflection on the Gospel of life. In union with other Religious Bodies and organisations, the Church should not be afraid to proclaim boldly the true and beautiful teachings on the sanctity of life, the beauty of love, the purity of marriage and family life and the dignity of human sexuality.
More than ever before, the Church ought to wake up and begin to act on its God-given mandate to address the difficult questions that confront modern society by constantly upholding moral values and the teachings of the faith. In proclaiming the Gospel of life, the Church must buttress and fortify the understanding and commitment of all peoples to the culture of life and true civilisation of love. This is a duty that the Church cannot shirk or renege on.
- The Role of the Family
In promoting the culture of life, the family has a decisive responsibility. This responsibility flows from its very nature as a community of life and love founded upon marriage, and from its mission to guard, reveal and communicate love. As the true “sanctuary of life,” the family must be the place in which life as a gift of God is properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks it faces from birth to death. This role of the family in building a culture of life is decisive and irreplaceable. I wish to call on all families to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life.
- The Work of Education
The work of education in the formation of conscience cannot be overstated, for education must help individuals to be ever more human and loving. It must lead men and women ever more to the truth, instilling in them respect for life and training them in right interpersonal relationships.
There is the need for education in Ghana to teach children the value of life from its very origins. This is because we cannot build a true culture of human life if we do not help the young to accept and experience sexuality and love in their true meaning and interconnection.
The work of education in the service of life also involves the training of married couples in responsible procreation in complete obedience to the Lord’s call and total respect for the moral law. Education must also help in teaching married couples the use of the natural methods of family planning.
Furthermore, the work of education must help people to accept the mystery of suffering and death as part of life experience. It must lead to the acceptance that pain and suffering have meaning and value when they are experienced in close connection with the love received and given. Together with parents, teachers, educators and intellectuals must help the nation to build a new culture of human life by contributing to and leading the efforts at helping all cultures to respect, defend and promote life at all its stages.
- The World of Politics
The promotion of the sanctity and dignity of life is also a particular responsibility of civil and political leaders who are called to serve the people and the common good and to make courageous choices in support of life, especially through legislative means. In a democracy where majority almost always carries the vote, the sense of personal responsibility in the consciences of individuals is crucial. Therefore, Christian politicians must be bold in speaking out against laws which violate life and disregard the dignity of persons. They must at all times be guided by their faith and the moral law in their decisions while always striving to promote the culture of life.
- The Role of the State
The unconditional respect for the right to life of every innocent person, from the moment of conception to natural death, is one of the pillars upon which every civil society stands. Therefore, the State has the primary duty to defend life. We need to understand that to be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of family values and the common good. There can be no true democracy without the recognition of every person’s dignity nor can there be a guarantee of true peace unless life is defended and promoted. The State therefore ought to be at the forefront of the promotion of the culture of life.
- The Mass Media
In building a true culture of life where life is protected and family values upheld, an important and serious responsibility belongs to the mass media, men and women involved in the arena of communication. Media men and women are called to ensure that the messages they transmit support the culture of life. You are called to present the positive aspects and values of sexuality and human love and not to insist on things which defile and cheapen human dignity.
Our cherished friends from the media, I wish to earnestly urge you in this project of life to have a scrupulous concern for factual truth and in combining freedom of information, to always strive to promote respect for life, for every person and humanity as a whole.
Pro-life Activism in Ghana
The attacks against life and family values in Ghana and the African continent as a whole are not new but the rate at which they are taking place now is alarming. Africa is becoming contraceptive at a dramatic pace and if nothing is done to halt this trend, our integral human development will suffer a devastating jolt.
Under the guise of “sexual and reproductive health rights”, Africans are subtly but gradually being led to embrace a hitherto unknown “culture of death” through the adoption of “Western sexual lifestyles,” made manifest in abortion, condom use, homosexuality, among others. If the Church does not stand up to its mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life and promoting the culture of life, our continent and nation will return to what Pope St. John Paul II calls a silent apostasy similar to that of Europe (Ecclesia in Europa, no. 9)
The Way Forward
The Church does not have the power or the divine mandate to overturn the global governance or influence its course but we are called to humbly, joyfully, patiently and courageously, without giving in to compromise, give witness to the truth about man and woman, human love and family. This will require an honest effort to study the Church’s teachings, to form the consciences of men and women, to encourage the vigilance of parents, to support the morality of our politicians, to cooperate with our media men and women and to support our governments to opt for life.
Ghana and for that matter, Africa, must resist wanting to be like other nations by drawing lessons from the consequences of the moral state of the West. We in Ghana and Africa have a mission to promote life in the world today and we cannot renege on this mission or reject God’s Word. The world is looking up to us; God is looking up to us; humanity is looking up to us. We cannot fail.
Prof. in the Chair, Distinguished Guests and Conference participants,
To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of family values and the dignity and sanctity of life. This is not the work of one person or group but the work of all. Therefore, we in the Catholic Church wish to solicit the support of all and sundry for the success of this pro-life campaign in Ghana and beyond. This is the campaign and this is our message. Let each one of you come on board for together we can promote the sanctity and dignity of life and fight the emerging culture of death in Ghana and beyond.
I thank you all for your kind attention.
MOST REV. ANTHONY ADANUTY
BSIHOP OF KETA-AKATSI &
VICE PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE
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