MADAGASCAR, November 22, 2013 ( – In an open letter to the nation, the bishops of Madagascar have decried imperialistic foreign influences for popularizing a 'gender theory' they say is contrary to county's culture and detrimental to its well-being.

“The establishment of 'gender theory' among us is more worrisome,” they wrote. “They may call it 'equality,' but it is the essence of the human person, a creature made in the image of God, that they want to outlaw.”

“It is the moral life that is degraded towards the elimination of life,” they said.


“In addition,” the bishops warned, “it is worth noting the very ambiguous attitude of the international community that benefits from our weakness.”

“Let us not be seduced by what is ephemeral, and let us not reject the wisdom of our ancestors. Do not be swayed by the advertisements that seek to take us away from the faith. Always keep praying for peace,” the bishops' letter concluded.

“Do not trample national sovereignty. Do not sell the country,” the bishops wrote in a statement published this week at the conclusion of their General Assembly marking the end of the Year of Faith and the jubilee of the 75th anniversary of the translation of the Catholic Bible into Malagasy.

While addressing the serious problems caused by the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the bishops noted that encroaching globalization, driven by Western countries, “has trampled the Malagasy values in denying the true 'fihavanana,' based on the history of the nation, culture and economy.”

“Fihavanana” is a Malagasy word encompassing the concept of rightly ordered kinship, friendship, and goodwill between people, both physical and spiritual, and is used in such popular Malagasy proverbs as “Ny Fihavanana no taloha ny vola,” which loosely translates to “The relationship is more important than the money.”

Although addressed to the whole country, their missive was aimed specifically at political candidates in anticipation of the second round of presidential elections to be held on December 20.

“The people are divided into two categories: the rich, and the poor living in extreme poverty. Insecurity is growing and people are no longer protected, so we're going toward a state of lawlessness and to a state where only the strong have the right on their side,” the bishops wrote.

“And how did we arrive here?” the bishops ask.

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“Certainly, globalization is inevitable,” they said.

“Our 'fihavanana' is a reality that has deteriorated so it is no longer possible for the Malagasy to come together in fraternal dialogue to solve problems.”

“In spite of all that, we must aspire to a new life,” the bishops urged, “otherwise we will reach a collective suicide, and we will destroy our country, if we let this situation continue.”

“We have a solemn duty to fulfill: hand in hand to build the future,” the bishops wrote.

The full text of the Malagasy bishops' letter to the nation is available in French on the website of the Zenit news agency.