April 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic bishops of a region of Nigeria have said in strong terms that redefining marriage and accepting homosexuality undermines the health of young people and harms the very fabric of society.
“The adoption or promotion of same-sex unions undermines the right to life, right to freedom of conscience, religious liberty, respect for moral and cultural values,” said the bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in a statement at the beginning of their International Pro-life and Pro-family conference held last week at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
“It also harms the innocence of children, degrades marriage and family life and destabilizes society, now and in the future,” the bishops stated.
The Catholic bishops of the Province of Ibadan organized the event as a response to the “dire situation around us of increasing violation of the sanctity of human life at every stage and in every manner,” with the intention of “developing strategies for defending the sanctity and dignity of human life.”
The bishops' statement also denounced “continual bloodshed due to wanton killing, terrorism, inter-ethnic conflicts, ritual killing, armed robbery, murders, traffic accidents, and suicide.”
The event was hosted by Most Reverend Gabriel Abegunrin, Archbishop of Ibadan, who voiced the commitment of his fellow bishops that “witnessing to the dignity of human life should include the defense of marriage between a man and a woman, the promotion of chastity, the campaign against abortion and all forms of artificial birth control, as well as the promotion of natural family planning methods while seeking to empower all Nigerians to live a more dignified life.”
The bishops reiterated that “only sacramental marriage between a man and a woman forms the foundation for the human family,” and that the family is the foundation of the culture of life.
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“Such a covenantal union is the true source for procreation offered to man by God,” the bishops said, emphasizing that the pro-life conference “will attempt to show the lie of same-sex unions as a grossly disordered phenomenon which should never be given legal status in Nigeria.”
The bishops said they were “thankful that other religions have a strong sense of the sanctity of human life as a gift of God, as well” as a clear moral sense on homosexuality.
“It is therefore imperative,” the bishops stressed, “for the Catholic Church and all religious organizations in Nigeria to be more courageous and consistent in pro-life activities in favor of human life, marriage and the family as counter-cultural antidotes to contemporary secular humanism and other anti-life ideologies and practices. This call is urgent, as campaigns and lobbies against life, marriage and family in Nigeria have become more intense at both the federal and state legislative levels.”
Among the speakers at the conference were representatives from the UK's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Antonia Tully; SPUC's Safe at School co-ordinator; and Rhoslyn Thomas, SPUC's youth organizer.
Antonia noted that a high point of the two-day conference was the March For Life along a main road through Ibadan.
“This was a wonderful public witness to life and gave everyone a strong sense of belonging to a growing and vibrant pro-life movement. Throughout the duration of the march people sang 'Yes, yes to life: No, no to death,' a song specially written for the march,” Antonia said.
SPUC director John Smeaton commented, “The message for the pro-life movement everywhere from the bishops of Ibadan, is so clear and uplifting…People in every part of the world need to be empowered to live dignified lives and we can learn so much from these leaders of the Catholic faithful in Nigeria.”
A video of the conference and march is available below:
The full text of the Nigerian bishops' statement is available here.