Aid in Africa Tied to “Insidious” Ideological Conditions: South African Cardinal

Wed Oct 14, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, October 14, 2009 ( - Aid offered to African nations from the developed world should not come with "ideological" strings attached, the Cardinal Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, said at a press conference today at the Vatican. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said that the African countries themselves should be allowed to say what type of aid they need and to be able to receive it without having to sacrifice their traditional cultural and moral values.

Currently, with aid programs, "if you're going to get aid for your program to try to deal with HIV/AIDS, you have to set aside a certain amount of that for condom purchases, for condom use," Cardinal Napier said. Others include the "infamous" "structural adjustment program" that force countries to cut education, social welfare or health care spending in favor of industry, said the Cardinal.

But an even more "insidious" ideology being imposed on Africa is that of moral relativism, which the cardinal called a form of "cultural imperialism" from the West. This, he said, is "introducing an individualism which is taking us completely away from caring for others on the basis of some external standard of moral behavior."

Almost 300 bishops and cardinals from Africa are meeting through the month to discuss the problems and promise of the continent. The bishops have repeatedly spoken against the imposition of anti-life and anti-family ideologies and "hidden agendas" by media and international aid organizations. In numerous interventions, the Synod fathers have pointed to the new language of "human rights" that seeks to redefine marriage and sexuality in terms of personal preference and subjective moral ideas.

Cardinal Napier said today that the Maputo Protocol, a "human rights" document that identifies "reproductive rights," including abortion, as a basic component of women's rights, has been specially singled out by the Synod fathers as "one of the disaster areas" for women. Such protocols and conferences, he said, are "trying to undermine the Judeo-Christian moral foundation of our moral system the most."

"I think at one of those conferences the Vatican had put up a very strong defense against the proposal that pregnancy be declared a sexually transmitted disease. Now that tells you how far people are pushing this ideology of 'reproductive health'."

The Cardinal also criticized western media for misrepresenting the Church's work with AIDS sufferers, saying that the Church is second only to the South African government in the numbers of people it cares for, but superior to the government in the quality of that care.

"For that reason, I think that it is difficult for us to understand why some of the media persist in trying to portray the Catholic Church as part of the problem, rather than as part of the solution," he said.

The reference was to the worldwide media frenzy that followed comments by Pope Benedict XVI in March in which he said that the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS only exacerbates the problem. Many media pundits, as well as the leadership of the homosexualist political movement, regularly claim that the Catholic Church's prohibition of condoms makes the pope himself and the Church in general directly responsible for millions of AIDS deaths.

The cardinal described the approach of the Church in South Africa as multi-layered, focusing on treatment, disseminating accurate information and prevention. South Africa has one of Africa's most critical AIDS rates and Cardinal Napier said that the "tremendous spread" of AIDS is easy to explain: "Generally it is because of irresponsible sexual behavior."

"If that is the root cause, irresponsible sexual behavior, then reason would tell you that the best way is to address the root cause. And that is to get people to change their behavior," he said.

Two principles are at work in the Church's efforts, he said. Married couples must "practice chastity by being absolutely faithful to your spouse" and unmarried people must "practice chastity by abstaining from all sexual activity."

"Those I think are just basic reasonable principles."

In the archdiocese of Durban, education programs for young people stress the fact that sexuality is designed for the conception of children, as a part of the "cultural norms that are inherent in Africa," the cardinal said.

"The great misuse of sexuality," he said, "is that [sexuality] is seen as only as something for pleasure." This attitude is part of the "cultural imperialism" that is being imported into Africa from the West. This is, he said, the "imperialist culture says that no, it's for enjoyment and pregnancy is almost a disease."

Read related coverage:

UN Food Chief Disputes Malthusian Overpopulation Theory at African Synod 

African Bishops at Synod Again Forcefully Warn of Destructive Ideologies Imposed by West 

Gender Theory a "Lethal Ideology" Alien to African Culture African Prelate tells Synod 

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