At last week's pro-life conference in Abuja, organised by the Nigerian Catholic Bishops' Conference, an official from the Nigerian health department arrived, strolled up to the podium and began to speak. A number of us were quite put out that he appeared to be taking the stage uninvited, with impunity, presenting the health department’s position as “pro-life” and then speaking vaguely about “reproductive health” etc.
After ten or 15 minutes of this, we wondered whether the bishops were being naive in letting him get away with it. Not so! ... as the video of the event I shot shows.
After about 15 minutes the presiding bishop rose to his feet to insist that the health official sit down and to listen to the conference speakers before he intervened any more.
When the health ministry official failed to leave the stage, a lawyer, Sonnie Ekwowusi, came forward and accused the health ministry official of lying about the government’s position.
As my second video, above, shows, he was immediately followed by Theresa Okafor, a member of the Holy See’s delegation at the UN, who told conference delegates that the health official had used ambiguous language in describing the Government's position on life issues. She explained that government and UN bodies interpret the right to “reproductive health” as the right to abortion on demand.
When the health official began to respond, the presiding bishop sternly ordered him to sit down and crossly deplored the health department’s action in sending along an official to lecture the conference and to lecture the Church; next time the bishops hold a pro-life conference, he said, government officials should be there, and should have the respect to listen to what is being said. Then a proper conversation with the government could take place.
At the end of the Conference, Archbishop Kaigama (pictured without a poster below), the president of the Nigerian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said: "We cannot be terrorized into doing anything to diminish life and the family. We don't want an abortion industry in Africa. We want industries which produce food, which builds homes and roads, and other practical things which people need. Someone from the government came to give a lecture. They should have listened. This is not the way it should be!"
Please pray for Archbishop Kaigama and his fellow bishops. They see themselves, rightly, at the centre of the global defence of life, the truth about human sexuality, and moral values.
|A few of the bishops who participated in the Nigerian|
Catholic Bishops' Pro-Life Conference in Abuja
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