Pope Urges Resistance to Imposed Sterilization and Contraception

Writes Message to Bishops of Tanzania

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II exhorted the bishops in Africa to oppose financial programs that impose the sterilization and contraception on developing countries.

The request was part of the message the Pope handed representatives of the bishops of Tanzania during an audience today in the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome.

Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, and Bishop Severine Niwemugizi of Rulenge, president of the episcopal conference, represented the group of bishops who were making their five-yearly visit to Rome.

Reflecting on the reports written by the prelates, the Holy Father said: «Today the Church is called to give special priority to the pastoral care of the family, because of the great cultural changes taking place in the modern world.»

«The new ideas and ways of life that are being proposed must be carefully assessed in the light of the Gospel, so that those values essential for the health and well-being of society may be preserved,» he added.

In particular, the Pontiff referred to «the unjust practice of linking programs of economic assistance to the promotion of sterilization and contraception must be strenuously resisted.»

«Such programs are affronts to the dignity of the person and the family,» indicated the Holy Father, quoting No. 234 of the recently published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. «They threaten to undermine the authentic Christian understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage.»

«According to the design of the Creator, the sacred bond of matrimony symbolizes the new and eternal Covenant sanctioned in the Blood of Christ,» the Holy Father wrote. «One and indissoluble by nature, it has to remain open to the generation of new life, by which the spouses cooperate in God’s creative work.»

«As authentic teachers of the faith, continue to proclaim these principles and to build up the Church in your country as the Family of God,» he continued. «Only in this way can healthy foundations be laid for the future of African society and indeed the future of the local Church.

«The promotion of genuine family values is all the more urgent on account of the terrible scourge of AIDS afflicting your country and so much of the African Continent.»

The Pope added that «fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of infection. Communicating this message must be a key element in the Church’s response to the epidemic.»

«It especially grieves me to consider the many thousands of children left as orphans in the wake of the merciless virus,» he wrote. «The Church plays a vital part in providing the care and compassion that is needed for these innocent victims, tragically deprived of the love of their parents.»

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