A successful Pro-Life Conference was held in Abuja, Nigeria on June 5th – 6th 2014, with the title “Witnessing to the Dignity of Every Human Life”. There were 11 Bishops and Archbishops in attendance plus more than 15 pro-life speakers and guests from Europe and America. There was a tremendous turn out of people from around Nigeria. The main fruit of the conference was a communiqué, which follows, and was published in two secular newspapers (Guardian and Punch) in Nigeria. The theme song for the Conference can be found in this link: http://youtu.be/wI2rgZj7JsU
BUILDING A CULTURE OF LIFE
A Communique issued at the end of the International Family and Pro-Life Conference held at the National Christian (Ecumenical) Centre, Abuja Nigeria, June 5th – 6th, 2014.
An International Family and Pro-life conference with the theme: “Witnessing to the Dignity of every Human Life” has taken place at the National Christian (Ecumenical) Centre from June 5-6, 2014. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), in collaboration with the Culture of Life Africa and the Action Family Foundation organized the two-day conference and March for Life rally in Nigeria because of the dangerous encroachment of the culture of death from without and within, and the increased attacks on marriage and family-life the world-over.
The conference was also a response by the Catholic Bishops to Pope Francis’ convocation of a special Synod dedicated to the family which is slated for October 2014. It brought together Pro-life leaders, stakeholders, advocates and church members from Africa, Europe and America to reflect on the family as the foundation of the Culture of Life, as well as develop strategies for defending the sanctity and dignity of human life.
Based on the facts and insights emanating from the conference therefore, we hereby declare as follows:
Every conceived child is formed and perfected in the image and likeness of God. Human life therefore begins at the moment of conception, and must be protected until natural death. Nigerians love life, welcome children as precious gifts, celebrate motherhood and uphold marriage as a union between man and woman.
Witnessing to the dignity of human life should include the defense of marriage between man and woman, the promotion of chastity, the campaign against abortion and all forms of artificial birth control, as well as the promotion of natural family planning methods while ensuring that Nigerians are supported to live a more dignified life.
The family is God’s precious gift to humanity which ought to be continually cherished. It is the bedrock and foundation of the development of a better society because it has the primary role of educating children which provides formation of character and ensures ethical living.
Only sacramental marriage between a man and a woman forms the foundation for the human family. Such a covenantal union is the true source for procreation offered to man by God. On the other hand, same-sex unions are grossly disordered and should never be given legal status in Nigeria. The adoption and promotion of same-sex unions undermines the right to life, right to freedom of conscience, religious liberty, respect for moral and cultural values, etc. It also harms the innocence of children, degrades marriage and family life and destabilizes society, now and in the future.
To be Pro-Life is to be Pro-Christ for Jesus came to give life and life to the full (Cf. John, 10:10). It is imperative for the Catholic Church and all religious organizations in Nigeria to be more courageous and consistent in Pro-Life activities in favour of human life, marriage and the family as counter-cultural antidotes to anti-life ideologies and practices. This call is urgent as the battle against life, marriage and family in Nigeria has become more intense at both the federal and state legislative sectors.
People in public service have a profound moral duty to protect the weakest and the most vulnerable from all threats. Professionals and practitioners of media have a special responsibility before God in this regard. The right to life - the most basic of all human rights - applies to all, regardless of race, colour, creed, sex, religion, state of physical health, age, stage of development or condition of dependency. Policies and programmes ought to reckon with this fact of our common humanity.
The relentless promotion by some international organizations of “sexual and reproductive rights”, a euphemism for abortion, is deceptive and unacceptable. Accordingly, we ask that all legislations for abortion, which is the intentional killing of innocent babies in the womb, be denounced and abrogated. We remain resolved in our efforts to ensure that abortion is never legalized in our country.
The entire human person belongs to God. This means that neither the human person nor the body parts can be reduced to commodity for commercial purposes. Therefore, we strongly reject human trafficking, the sex trade, human egg trafficking, embryo manipulations and organ poaching.
Finally in the name of our merciful God we call for an end to all forms of terrorism, and demand the immediate and unconditional release of the Chibok school girls, who were abducted in April, 2014 and of all kidnapped persons in Nigeria.
As Pope Saint John Paul II exhorted us, we urge everyone to continue courageously to witness to the dignity of every human life at every stage and age. May God inspire all Nigerians by his Holy Spirit so that together we may rebuild our dear nation on the principles of the Culture of Life to the glory of God in whose image we all are created. Amen.
Most Rev. James Daman, OSA
Episcopal Chairman, Family and Human Life
Ms. Obianuju Ekeocha
Pro-life Advocate & Biomedical Scientist
Dr. Emmanuel Okechukwu
Secretary Health Unit CSN