An official with the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has called on industrial nations to do more for the family and for the protection in human life in Africa, charging that most Western aid programs promote a concept of the family that is foreign to Africans.
Christine du Coudray, who heads the Africa desk at ACN, made her comments after returning from a fact-finding trip to Africa. She said that ACN seems to be almost alone in its efforts to promote a “Culture of Life” in Africa.
She claimed that aid agencies in Africa often promote a “Western concept of the family” that is no longer based on the community of husband, wife, and children. Du Coudray reported that such agencies promote artificial contraception and abortion and offer condoms as a solution to the spread of AIDS.
“The Africans see these ideas as foreign. They understand at once that this is no culture of life but rather a culture of death,” she said, according to ACN.
Du Coudray praised the Africa Family Life Federation (AFLF), whose congress she attended in Nairobi in November with ACN secretary general Pierre-Marie Morel. She reported the congress has shown the high level of expertise African experts have in promoting healthy families. The congress’ one hundred participants from 17 African countries included medical specialists, theologians, priests, religious sisters, and lay specialists active in pastoral work.
According to du Coudray, the AFLF bases its work upon outreach to families and in helping married couples in the practicalities of everyday life, with emphasis on natural family planning.
“We can never do enough to encourage this important and valuable cause,” she said.
The AFLF will soon produce a handbook on Christian family life to be used in the family apostolate in many African countries.
"I believe there is nothing more important than to focus on the family. For it is the basis for everything else -- for a healthy and stable society, for priestly vocations and for the future of mankind altogether," du Coudray said, adding that she believes Africa has a "special calling" and can show the West that the future of mankind lies with the family.
In addition to its pro-life work, ACN supports AIDS strategies which encourage chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it, especially among people.