A letter of support and congratulations is being sent today to John Cardinal Njue by pro-life leaders gathered in Toronto, where I'm attending a meeting of the International Right to Life Federation of which I am joint vice-president.
In a powerfully-worded message to Kenyan Catholics and to "people of good will" he calls on them to"stand firm" against "a parliamentary bill" on abortion, on which I have blogged before. SPUC's analysis describes the eugenic and coercive nature of the bill which leaves virtually no legal protection whatsoever for the unborn child.
The Cardinal's call to the Kenyan people is direct and totally clear: "Stand firm against this evil of abortion". He says: "For Almighty God there is no such thing as an 'unwanted baby' ... and he reminds Catholics of the Church's penalty for procruing an abortion: "'A person who procures an abortion, where the effect follows, incurs an automatic excommunication' (Canon 1398). This includes any human person who knowingly has the abortion and anyone who assists willingly and directly, such as the doctor, the nurse or others. Let it be understood that in the final analysis excommunication is the choice of the individual; it is not the choice of the Church."
Since I cannot find the pastoral letter on the internet I publish it below in full. Please write to the Cardinal to encourage him and his fellow bishops to continue in their prophetic and courageous witness.
"My dear Priests, Religious, Christians and people of good will in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, and Catholic Diocese of Murang’a, grace and peace of the Lord be with you.
"With this letter I want to thank you for all the work and activities of evangelisation and human development that you are undertaking in this our beloved nation Kenya. Your voice and life of witness gives us courage to move ahead preaching the risen Lord with confidence.
"As you may recall, we have all gone through tough moments when our country turned into a battleground and in weeks was torn apart by violence. Thanks to God and our spirit of reconciliation, sanity is slowly returning.
"The Disturbing Issue
"Another disturbing issue is slowly arising in our midst, and that is the parliamentary bill on legalising abortion. You already know the stand of the Catholic Church on this issue. Now, I call upon you to stand firm and defend the life of the unborn babies. Say and shout it aloud that: Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy by killing the unborn and defenceless child. Such direct action, willed, either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law and to Christian teaching. Abortion is killing an innocent person and God says, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). The womb of any mother is supposed to be the safest place where the child, even just conceived, should feel most secure and loved. There is no way we shall support a society that destroys the unborn who have been created as a gratuitous gift from God to the community.
"The Evil of Abortion
"Stand firm against this evil of abortion. Abortion is not merely the removal of some tissue from a woman’s body. Abortion is not the removal of a living “thing” that would become human if it were allowed to remain inside the woman’s body. Abortion is the destruction of an unborn baby. Pregnancy is the period for this new human life to mature, not just to “become human”. It, already is human. This is why the Church considers abortion the killing of a human being, and why the Second Vatican Council called it an “unspeakable crime.” I remind you all to maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception. Even under threat, never use your knowledge to do what is contrary to the laws of humanity.
"There Is No Such Thing
"For Almighty God there is no such thing as an 'unwanted baby.' Every one is made in His image and likeness and is uniquely part of the divine plan. If there is a woman anywhere who does not 'want' her baby, I plead with her to nevertheless let that baby live. A great number of people want that baby as does the Church. We love that baby from the moment it is conceived.
"You formed my inmost being;you knit me in my mother’s womb.I praise you, so wonderfully you made me;wonderful are your works! My very self you knew.
"Penalty for Abortion
"Current Church law states: 'A person who procures an abortion, where the effect follows, incurs an automatic excommunication' (Canon 1398). This includes any human person who knowingly has the abortion and anyone who assists willingly and directly, such as the doctor, the nurse or others. Let it be understood that in the final analysis excommunication is the choice of the individual; it is not the choice of the Church.
"Persons in Political Life
"The Church has called politics a “difficult but noble art.” I am aware of the enormous pressures on those who serve the people in the midst of constantly shifting political winds, and the demands of diverse constituencies which can at times be completely irreconcilable. However, all political office holders and candidates for public office should make clear their commitment to work against legislation supporting abortion and even to accept political defeat, should such be the result, rather than sacrifice human life.
"Catholics Holding Public Office
"Those of you who are Catholics and are holding positions of public responsibility should be distinguished by your sense of integrity. Your actions should be consistent with your faith and the moral principles taught by the Church in which you claim membership. In fulfilment of your public responsibilities, you must uphold public morality and promote public order and peace. You must work for laws and public policies that sustain human life and promote the common good. You must work hard to assure prenatal care for all women. You must work to correct injustices and all situations of evil that threaten human dignity and human rights. You must have a special concern for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. In this you should be sensitive to the opportunities you have of enlightening and persuading others as to the proper moral response to the many problems of our day.
"Persons of Good Will
"This is the opportune time for you Catholics to constructively enter into the public debate. For that matter you must be informed, argue rationally, and show respect for those who have differing opinions, while at the same time evidencing the unwavering conviction that every unborn child has the right to life. One voice, one person reaching out, can literally make the difference between life and death. Work in your parishes, homes, offices, fields and on streets to create an atmosphere that tells the world you are followers of Christ, committed, as He was committed, to the sacredness of all human life.
“'The laity...exercise their apostolate...in the world as in the Church, in the temporal order as well as in the spiritual...The layman, at one and at the same time a believer and a citizen of the world, has only a single conscience; it is by this that he must be guided continually in both domains' (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, No.5).
"True Love Is the Way
"The ultimate answer to abortion lies in an understanding of love. There is probably no term we use more loosely than love. Love doesn’t come and go with the wind. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:4-8). When we live in love, we outgrow our selfishness and we are always ready to give. Our Lord Jesus tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down our lives for our friends.
"Obviously, love of God requires that we keep His commandments. These Commandments still mean today in the Third Millennium what they always meant: sexual intimacies outside marriage and for pleasure are wrong. If we love young people we will not hesitate to teach them this. We must never underestimate them. Far more young people are prepared to be good than some adults realise. But adults must set the standards. Adults must be very clear in their own minds that lust is not love, and that, with the help of the sacraments, purity is possible.
"Finally, if we teach a true love of life, the life of the unborn, the aged, the disabled, the blind, and deaf, and retarded, if we teach that God loves every life He creates, we would go a long way toward ending abortion. The God of love has given to human beings the incredible capacity to share in His creation. We call that sharing “procreation.” The God of love never intended that human beings would kill human beings. Love is always creative, never destructive. That’s why love makes the world go round.
"Submit a Million Signatures for the Baby
This is the opportune moment to call upon you all to join in our preliminary steps to resist illegal legislations. Legalising abortion has no place in African Cultures and traditions. I request all Parishes, Chaplaincies, Religious Communities, Christians and people of good will to start submitting signatures so that after gathering them in their millions we move to petition the competent authorities to stop this campaign of discussing how to kill the unborn babies.
"This is our non-stop baby defending crusade for the next couple of months. Radio Waumini, Church announcements, posters and the National Mirror will keep you informed about our way forward.
"Let’s join hands to heal our nation Kenya. This is the time to reconstruct what was damaged, and not to spend time planning to annihilate the innocent unborn babies. May we embrace this struggle with courage and look at our future with hope.
"I impart on you my apostolic blessings.
†John Cardinal Njue
Archbishop of Nairobi
and the Apostolic Administrator of Murang’a
28th September 2008"