VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II, addressing the fights against AIDS, raised the alarm about new forms of colonialism in Africa that are opposed to the values of marriage and the family.
The Pope expressed his concern in his addresses to Kenyan Ambassador Raychelle Awuor Omamo and Malawian Ambassador Gilton Bazilio Chiwaula, who presented their letters of credence.
“The family stands at the heart of the cultures of Africa. This is a treasure which must be preserved and never neglected, for the future of your people, and that of the world, passes through the family,” the Holy Father said in his address to the Kenyan ambassador.
In fact, “civic and religious leaders should work together to ensure that the sacred institution of marriage, with its concomitant of stable home life, is affirmed and supported,” the Pope added.
“Breakdown of domestic life is always a source of intractable problems which, in addition to causing incalculable distress to individuals, undermine the fabric of society and its means of secure development,” he said.
Aware that the Kenyan people are enduring acute problems, the Pontiff said that “solutions cannot be restricted to the mere removal of hardships but instead require the courage to embrace a way of life faithful to God’s plan for all men and women.”
In this connection, John Paul II alluded “with grave concern” to “measures currently under debate” in Kenya “to facilitate abortion,” and warned that the practice, in addition to “violating life’s essential dignity,” “invariably causes untold emotional and psychological pain to the mother, who herself is frequently a victim of circumstances contrary to her deepest hopes and desires.”
“Similarly, in regard to the tragedy of AIDS which the whole family is currently facing, it must be recalled that at heart this is a question of behavior,” he said.
The Holy Father warned that “proposed remedies which either ignore or reject the only genuine foundation of health and happiness in this matter — sexual fidelity within marriage and abstinence without — are likely to increase rather than resolve the tragedy and indeed can be understood as new forms of colonialism.”
Therefore, the Pope appealed to Kenya’s Christian community “to bear steadfast witness to that intimate communion of life and love which defines the family, brings joy to communities, and provides the foundation upon which the aspirations of a nation can be built.”
Addressing the envoy from Malawi, the Holy Father said: “The alarmingly rapid spread of AIDS demands renewed efforts on the part of the international community.” He also appealed to the Malawi government “to find acceptable ways of combating the disease and providing proper care for the sick and their families.”
Malawi’s public authorities and faith communities must work together to promote “fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it as the most effective safeguards against infection,” the Pope urged.
John Paul II encouraged the people of Malawi to continue to promote respect for the family and encouraged the country’s government “to resist any attempts by outside agencies to impose programs of economic assistance tied to the promotion of sterilization and contraception.”
Such campaigns not only are “affronts to the dignity of the person and the family, but they also undermine the natural growth and progress of nations,” he said.
Finally, the Pope renewed the Church’s commitment in the two countries, to offer care in this area and to foster human dignity and a better future for their peoples.
Kenyan Ambassador Awuor Omamo has a degree in law from Kent University, in England. She has been a defense lawyer in her country’s Supreme Court, and a member of the Council of Kenya’s Lawyers’ Association as well as its first woman president.
She is also president of the Executive Council of Nairobi’s Nyumbani Center for seropositive children, and vice president of the Lawyers’ Association of East Africa. Since December 2003, she has been her country’s ambassador to France. Awuor Omamo is an adviser to UNICEF for children’s projects.
A third of Kenya’s 32 million are Catholic; 45% are Protestant. Another 10% of the population is Muslim, and 10% follow traditional creeds.
Malawi’s Ambassador Gilton Bazilio Chiwaula has a degree in business and economics from the University of Melbourne, in Australia. He has held posts in the state’s Accounting Department and in the Ministry of Labor, including the post of general accountant, treasury secretary, general accounts censor, director of the Anti-Corruption Office, and adviser to the president. Since last year, he is also ambassador to Germany.
Independent since 1964, Malawi, a former British protectorate in southern Africa, has a population of 11.9 million, most of whom are Christians. Catholics comprise 20% of the population, Protestants 55%, Muslims about 20%, and followers of traditional creeds about 3%.