By Hilary White

ANGOLA, March 23, 2009 ( – In an address to the civil authorities of Angola on the last day of his trip to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI noted the “bitter irony” that, in the light of the “the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure,” including “unspeakable” sexual violence, abortion should be presented as a solution by international “human rights” groups. 

“How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of ‘maternal’ healthcare!” the pope said. “How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health!” Pope Benedict said.

Referring to the notorious Maputo Protocol, the Pope noted as an area of “grave concern” the policies of those who claim to “improve the social edifice,” by introducing abortion. The Maputo Protocol is the document crafted by various international pro-abortion groups, and signed in 2003 by 45 member countries in the African Union, including Angola, that attempts to force African countries to adopt abortion as part of “reproductive rights” for women.

As a former colony of Portugal, Angola’s population remains 38 percent Roman Catholic and 15 percent Protestant. Abortion is legal only in the first trimester of pregnancy in cases where a pregnancy is deemed to be life-threatening for the mother.

The country is in a process of recovery after twenty-seven years of civil war. In that process, the western world’s international abortion and population control movement is pressuring to bring into the country the full pro-abortion program.

In his address to the country’s Catholic bishops, Pope Benedict said that Catholics have an important role to play in framing the debates current in society. He warned that this work is set against the work of the media, saying, “Culture and models of behavior are nowadays more and more conditioned and shaped by the images set forth by the communications media.”

At his meeting on Friday at the presidential palace in Luanda with the Angolan political and civil authorities, including the diplomatic corps, the Pope warmly commended the families of Africa, saying, “My visit to Cameroon and to Angola has stirred within me that profound human delight at being among families.” He encouraged Catholics to work for “economic and legislative measures to support the family in bearing and raising children.”

But he warned that the natural family is under threat: “In addition to the fragility and lack of inner stability of so many conjugal unions, there is the widespread tendency in society and culture to call into question the unique nature and specific mission of the family based on marriage.”

He called on the bishops, and by extension all Catholics, to “continue to raise your voice in defense of the sacredness of human life and the value of the institution of marriage, as well as in promotion of the family’s proper role in the Church and in society.”

“Indeed I think that those who come from other continents can learn afresh from Africa that the family is the foundation on which the social edifice is built.”