The criticism of the position of the Catholic Church on abortion and other related immoral acts has been attributed to inherited prejudices of the critics and their ignorance of the beliefs and traditions of the Church.
This assertion was made by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama in his address to declare open the Seminar/Workshop for Catholic Doctors and Nurses and other health workers, held at the Pastoral Centre, Jos, Plateau State, recently. The theme of the seminar was: Health Care practice and the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church.
According to the Archbishop: “The Catholic Church has been criticized over her stance on such issues as abortion, condom, homosexuality, cloning, stem cell research, etc.” He however maintained that the Church’s principled views on key moral issues cannot be compromised.
The local ordinary of Jos further remarked: “The Catholic Church is often judged by people who do not care to know what we really believe. Prejudices inherited from one generation to another have blinded critics of the Catholic Church so much that they cannot be objective about Catholic beliefs and traditions.”
Archbishop Kaigama warned against submitting to the wishes of some governments and international organizations who wanted to force their debased moral and cultural values on the continent of Africa and especially Nigeria. His words: “We must not be swallowed up by the tyrannical imposition of some governments or international non-governmental organizations who wish to dictate the moral trend of the world based on their secular values.”
He continued: “In Africa, whether it is about population control, use of condoms, homosexuality, etc sometimes, the views of the West are forced down the throats of Africans through financial inducement. Africans must not be copy cats, believing that whatever comes from the West is ideal.”
The CBCN president stressed the need for “cultural or intellectual discernment” on the part of Africans and Nigerians adding: “or else we run the risk of losing our values and becoming neither Africans nor Westerners.” He added: “We must be faithful to our religious heritage even at a time when some of the people who introduced Christianity to us have become its ardent critics and some of them nurture a pathological hatred for Church directives or moral judgments.”
While reminding Catholic doctors, nurses and other health workers that their work is not only a career but a calling, the CBCN president urged them to be knowledgeable in the social teachings of the Church to enable them render their services “according to sound moral and ethical principles. He also used the occasion to commend Catholic doctors who have stood in defense of life in conformity with the teaching of the Church saying: “They do not trade their faith for anything no matter the economic inducements or physical threats.”
While expressing the hope that the seminar/workshop will provide the opportunity for the participants to fully study the social teachings of the Church and be “a spring board to make them resolve to learn more about the Catholic medical ethics, Archbishop Kaigama urged the participants to be selfless and dedicated health workers and remain truly Catholic.