FRONT ROYAL, Virginia (HLl) — The future looks bright for pro-life Catholics in Africa, thanks to the dedicated training of seminarians conducted by Human Life International, a U.S.-based Catholic pro-life organization. Africa is a shining beacon of hope to those pursuing a culture of life. As Human Life International continues its counteroffensive against the abortion promotion campaigns of the West, one of many fertile fields bearing fruit in Africa is the organization’s training programs, which have reached more than 10,000 African seminarians in the last 20 years.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s abortion rate has been on the rise, even in countries where, by law, abortion is allowed only to save the life of the mother. The annual number of abortions in sub-Saharan Africa nearly doubled between 1995 to 2020, from 4.3 million to 8.0 million. Of the almost one million surprise pregnancies reported in Benin, Burkina Faso, and the Côte d’Ivoire alone, close to 40 percent have ended in abortion. Human Life International is working to reduce that rate in those three countries and 12 other sub-Saharan nations through education programs, pregnancy support, and advocacy.
George Wirnkar, Human Life International’s Regional Director for French-speaking Africa, has trained thousands of young men called to the priesthood in the 25 years he has been with the global Catholic pro-life organization. Annually, Human Life International trains 4,500 priests and seminarians around the world.
These young men, dedicated to serving the Lord, generally come from traditional African cultures that value family, human dignity, and life. However, Wirnkar explained, they are ministering in communities that have been targeted by abortion-promoting organizations from the West. He noted that the sub-Saharan nations are frequent targets of global abortion promoters. Among those countries in the crosshairs of organizations such as International Planned Parenthood Federation and MSI Reproductive Choices, Wirnkar named Benin, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire. Human Life International has conducted pro-life training for seminarians in those countries.
Fr. Innocent Ahidje of Benin was ordained in 2020 amid the throes of the COVID pandemic, when abortion providers trumpeted a rise in what they labelled “unwanted” pregnancies. As others called for abortion access, the young priest made use of the seminary training he had received from Human Life International. Drawing upon his education, Ahidje taught his congregation the tenets of Catholic doctrine on life issues.
Ahidje has shared a response he received from Janvier, a young husband in his congregation: “I have tears in my eyes and a heart in pain as I speak. Fr. Ahidje’s talks opened my mind to the grave sins against life that my wife and I committed in abortion…I rejoice because I have learned that abortion is not a method of family planning…This is a new beginning in the life of our young family.”
Burkina Faso-based Fr. Lucien Wanre attended the seminary of Saint Pierre Claver in Koumi when he received Human Life International’s pro-life seminary courses.
“These classes greatly enriched my knowledge and understanding of the critical pro-life questions of our day,” Wanre said. “I am most thankful that I can share the knowledge acquired during these training sessions in my daily activities as a priest…to touch the hearts of many people, those under my pastoral care and beyond.”
Fr. Edgard Ouedraogo, who is also from Burkina Faso, said he learned from Human Life International that the strategies of the culture of death are being maliciously imposed on Africa and to what extent the African family was being targeted.
“This led me to conduct my own research on the New World ethic and the promotion of women in Africa,” explained Ouedraogo. “Human Life International gave me the tools to minister intellectually, pastorally, and humanely. They equipped me to enlighten many people about life, even non-Christians. Sharing the message of Pope John Paul II with his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, I’ve been able to address the issues of abortion, contraception, gender, and homosexuality from a solid foundation.”
“In the eyes of the powerful, Africa must be conquered,” said Ouedraogo. “Human Life International must continue to combat these silent but unimaginable crimes to save the sense of the humanity that is in danger of disappearing.”
When Fr. Sam Théodore attended Sacred Heart Seminary on the Côte d’Ivoire, he knew that all life was sacred, but he wasn’t equipped to defend it.
Théodore wrote to say, “The formation I received at the Human Life International training courses is a complement to the education I received at the seminary. These sessions gave me something I could not receive through formal seminary training alone and allowed me to more fully and practically understand the challenges to our faithful, and especially, to the holy gift of marriage.”
As the creator of several pro-life groups, each flourishing and continuing to defend life, faith, and family, Théodore has gone on to host pro-life radio programming and author a book entitled Abortion, A Human Scandal.
“The so-called civilized West has sent millions of dollars to Africa to pay for abortions and contraceptives, something that African women have not asked for,” added Emil Hagamu, Human Life International’s Regional Director in English-speaking Africa. “Africa’s population has long been intentionally targeted for decimation. It is essential that the clergy of the Catholic church be equipped to help their faithful people combat this culture of death. This is the goal of Human Life International’s expansive training for seminarians.”
Edited and published with permission