Africa Still Groaning Under Imperialism

Cardinals Lament New Tactics in Violating Dignity

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By Carmen Elena Villa

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2009 ( The Western world needs to get rid of the idea that its beliefs and behaviors should be the rule of the world, says a cardinal from Senegal.

Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, affirmed this Wednesday at a press conference on the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

The synod began at the Vatican on Oct. 4 and runs through Oct. 25.

On Tuesday afternoon, a mid-way Report After the Discussion was delivered by the synod’s relator-general.

At the conference Wednesday, Cardinal Sarr pointed to a “sort of cultural imperialism,” which puts anti-life conditions on humanitarian aid that is sent to the continent.

“If they wish to help us, they cannot filter ideas to us that do not seem correct to us,” he said. “We want to be helped but in truth, and respected for what we are.
“Western nations must get rid of the idea that everything they believe and do must become the rule in the world.”

Culture and dignity

Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya, echoed the same sentiments. He stressed that “cooperation and aid are necessary,” but it is also necessary “to respect the independence, point of view, culture and dignity” of African peoples.
“It is not right to give aid conditioned on a change of peoples’ values regarding subjects such as abortion and the concept of the family,” Cardinal Njue said. “Africans are in need of cooperation but it is necessary to respect their independence, their culture and the dignity of the human person.”
Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban, South Africa, and the synod’s president-delegate, acknowledged that Africa is in a “difficult situation.”

The “conflicts and calamities” on the continent make international cooperation necessary, the cardinal said. But, he added, it is important to respect “the independence of the African population.”
“What comes from outside must be in respect of the culture of the dignity of the human person,” Cardinal Napier affirmed.
Africa “has enormous potential,” the cardinal declared, and its “development should be fostered.” However, Africans want “collaboration on the basis of equality.”

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