I think that if people who subscribe to different lobbies in the world today want to claim that every kind of behavior must be given the status of a human right, it should be remembered that if I don’t believe that, I also have a right to express myself. Why would anybody impose that other worldview on me. I think it’s immoral.
May I ask you, as an African and as a bishop: Some who promote the gay rights agenda have likened their struggle to the civil rights movement in the 60s and to the struggle of African-Americans for equality. What is your view on this?
Blacks fought because they wanted to be recognized as human beings. But the gays are fighting so that their behavior may be recognized as a human right. It’s not on the same level. It’s not on the same level at all.
The black man fought so that he could be allowed to exist like his white counterpart. Those are human rights. But that people engage in relationships that are unproductive, that’s not the same thing. Those are behaviors, behaviors that have been proven, even scientifically, to be capable of being changed, behaviors that have been proven on some levels of science to be pathological. It’s not a pathological thing to be black. I can’t change and become white.
Turning to the Synod on the Family, what is important to the African bishops for the Synod? And how concerned are they about attempts to change pastoral practice in controversial subjects like divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, cohabitation, etc.
I said earlier that there are some values in Africa which I believe Christianity only came to baptize. Life has always been sacred. Family has always been honored, long before Christianity came. Regarding the Synod on the Family, we see it as an opportunity to help stem the wave of anti-family values that are coming from the West, and from so-called “modern civilization,” and from the media. The media is powerfully complicit in this.
During the last Synod, what Africa insisted upon is our ability to express our concerns. Our concerns are not the concerns of the West. But Africa did not say that the West should not express its own concerns.
More and more Africans are beginning to speak for themselves, and to resist the general attitude of the past that an African can hardly think for himself, that he hardly knows what it good for him.
What Africa would like is to be given the opportunity to be both African and Christian, to be both African and Catholic. The issues of family and marriage in Africa are issues, for example, that concern polygamy, issues that concern in some cases underage marriages, issues that concern the empowerment of women, and those are issues that touch us on the skin.
We want those issues to be part of the issues that concern the Church. If the West is concerned about divorced and remarried people, well and good. But we must include the issues that concern Africa and that concern the other parts of the world. That’s the meaning of a Synod, that we bring together our concerns and our strengths.
What can the Church in Africa offer to the Universal Church which the West cannot offer or will not offer?
We think that Africa has the capacity to remind the world of the very essential things: of our humanity, the sacredness of human life, and about the beauty of the family, the beauty of accepting children from God as a gift, rather than as a burden. For many in the West, children have become a burden.
Africa rejects an individualistic, selfish culture that thinks only about the quality of life rather than the sanctity of life. And Africa rejects the kind of culture that speaks only about freedom and no responsibility. We reject that kind of Western-style sexual education that is prevalent now, that attacks children, that seeks to “free” them and give them “choices” in their own sexual behaviors. That’s happening. There are United Nations organizations that have sworn to help children be free from parental influence and religious organizations. Children as young as five or six. Why do children or even youth need to know about family planning? They don’t have families. What are they planning?
There are certain interests and motives behind this. Perhaps these motives are economic. I interpret it in a very simple way: if I sell condoms, and I sell a million condoms for one million dollars, if I can convince ten million young people that condoms bring them happiness, that’s more money for me. It’s very simple. So I will do everything to convince them that the source of their happiness is contraception. If I manage to do that, I will receive not one million dollars but ten million dollars. Why shouldn’t I do it, if I have no sense of values? I think that if nothing else is behind it, this is.