Pope Benedict XVI had a special message for Africa in his meeting with the bishops of Kenya today. As the bishops completed their “ad limina” visit, the Pope exhorted them to defend “at all costs” the institutions of marriage and family life, which are under attack from the “globalized secular culture”.
Praising the esteem in which Africans hold marriage and family life, the Holy Father told the Kenyan bishops that “[t]his precious treasure must be guarded at all costs.” The cause of “the ills besetting some parts of African society, such as promiscuity, polygamy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, can be directly related to disordered notions of marriage and family life,” Benedict noted.
"For this reason," he added, "it is important to assist parents in teaching their children how to live out a Christian vision of marriage, conceived as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, essentially equal in their humanity and open to the generation of new life.”
Pope Benedict showed particular concern that authentic African culture is being undermined by anti-life movements. "While this understanding of Christian family life finds a deep resonance in Africa, it is a matter of great concern that the globalized secular culture is exerting an increasing influence on local communities as a result of campaigns by agencies promoting abortion,” he said. "This direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances that may lead some to consider taking such a grave step.”
The Holy Father also instructed the bishops that “[w]hen you preach the Gospel of Life, remind your people that the right to life of every innocent human being, born or unborn, is absolute and applies equally to all people with no exception whatsoever."
Out of concern for the women who find themselves in difficult circumstances, the Pope reminded the Catholic community that it “must offer support to those women who may find it difficult to accept a child, above all when they are isolated from their family and friends.” Catholics should also “be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ."
Benedict XVI pointed out how the Church in Kenya "is well known for the fine contribution made by its educational institutions in forming generations of young people in sound ethical principles and in opening their minds to engage in peaceful and respectful dialogue with members of other social or religious groups.
"At a time when a secularist and relativist mentality is increasingly asserting itself through global means of soial communication, it is all the more essential that you continue to promote the quality and the Catholic identity of your schools, universities and seminaries. Take the steps necessary in order to affirm and clarify their proper institutional status," he concluded. "Today there is a particular need for highly trained professionals and persons of integrity in the area of medicine, where advances in technology continue to raise serious moral questions."