Arriving in the Philippines last January, Pope Francis warned his millions of listeners to resist “ideological colonization.” This destructive assault on families, the Pope continued, included efforts to “redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.”
Africans, above all, know what he is talking about. After all, their continent has been the playground of Western imperialists for the past two centuries. Their bodies were enslaved, and their countries were colonized. Now the target is their very minds.
The assembled African bishops—all 400 or so of them—recently denounced this new kind of colonialism. Their joint Declaration, drafted in June but only released this month, begs wealthy Western nations “… to end the filthy campaigns that promote a civilization of death on our continent.”
The Declaration continues:
[There is] a terrifying resurgence of a colonialist spirit under the guise of the appealing names of liberty, equality, rights, autonomy, democratization and development. Condoms, contraceptives, sex education programs fabricated elsewhere, purely technical and deprived of moral content, so-called “safe abortions”, have become commodities that are more accessible to Africans than the way of delivering integral development, of which we have such a vital need.
It can no longer be denied that under the euphemism of “sexual and reproductive health and rights”, such programs are plainly imposed as a condition for development assistance. Such is also the case of the so-called “gender perspective,” according to which motherhood, the filial and nuptial identity of the human being and the family based on marriage between a man and a woman would be “discriminatory stereotypes.” No! Women and men in Africa are not mere individuals, autonomous from their parents, spouses, children: women, men, children, we are all persons, created out of love and for love, and we all belong to a family and a community, vitally, ontologically and emotionally united!
Africans are becoming aware of the ongoing manipulation. Africa is not developing in harmony with her soul. The agents of the civilization of death are using ambivalent language, seducing decision-makers and entire populations, in order to make them partners in the pursuit of their ideological objectives. They are co-opting a great many in partnerships of which they are, in reality, the masters. They take advantage of poverty, weakness and ignorance in order to subject peoples and governments to their blackmail.
To the Western reader, all this may sound a little overwrought. Is it really true that “agents of the civilization of death”—the United Nations and Western governments—are really “seducing decision makers” and “subject[ing] peoples and governments to their blackmail”?
Sadly, yes. Enormous sums of money are being spent in sub-Saharan Africa in order to promote Western ideologies like “sexual and reproductive health” (abortion on demand), “gender identity” (homosexuality) and “sustainable development” (population control).
In 2010, for example, the Obama administration spent an estimated $23 million illegally lobbying Kenyan lawmakers and bribing opinion makers to legalize abortion in their country—and succeeded. I think that qualifies as “seducing decision makers.”
Then there is the U.N.’s so-called Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which routinely rails against African countries that refuse to ditch laws protecting life. Last November, Senegal was on the receiving end as CEDAW demanded they “legaliz[e] … abortion in cases of rape, incest and severe foetal impairment.”
CEDAW also arrogantly demanded that Senegal produce statistics on maternal mortality from “unsafe” abortions. The U.N. committee obviously hoped these numbers would provide a further justification for legalizing abortion, despite the fact that, as recent studies have shown, liberalizing abortion laws has no effect on maternal mortality rates.
Another Western ideology that is being forced on the African people is homosexuality and other sexual aberrations. President Obama has made LGBT issues a priority of U.S. foreign policy, instructing all “agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development” to promote them, and promising “swift and meaningful” consequences for nations that do not comply.
Here the “blackmail” that the African bishops have complained about has been even more blatant. In 2011, the Administration withheld almost $350 million in foreign aid to Malawi as punishment for a Malawian law criminalizing sodomy. One of the poorest nations in the world, with an annual per capita income of only $790, the Malawians soon agreed to do our bidding.
These new imperialists are so determined to impose their ideology around the world that they are willing to kill for it. I do not exaggerate. When Nigeria passed a law protecting marriage, the U.S. government threatened to cut back its funding for lifesaving malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
And then there is the perennial fixation of Western donors on population control in Africa. In 2014 alone, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) spent almost $160 million in Sub-Saharan Africa promoting and distributing contraceptives, including abortifacients.
The goal is to drive down the birth rate. One of the UN’s principal targets is Kenya. In its recent report on that country, UNFPA set a target to reduce Kenya’s total fertility rate (TFR) from 4.6 to 2.6 by 2030.
In an interview with Aleteia, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, Chairman of Communications for the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and Bishop of the Diocese of Oyo in Nigeria, spoke of the West’s “inordinate alarm about the exploding populations in Africa. And anything that can be done to decrease or limit the growth of the population in Africa is quite welcome.”
And he is tired of it. He and other African bishops, in the new Declaration, denounce this ideological colonization as “a new type of slavery! …the hour has come to demystify what global governance calls “national ownership” and “country-driven” initiatives. No, these agendas are by no means African! They are, from A to Z, piloted by agents external to Africa.”
Two generations ago, Africa finally escaped the bondage of colonialism, which had kept its peoples enslaved for two centuries or more. Now comes a new and more insidious form of colonialism, one which enslaves not their bodies but their minds. The African bishops are right to speak out against it.
We here in the U.S. must do our part in support of our Catholic brothers and sisters in Africa. We must work to end foreign aid programs that promote the culture of death, whether in Africa or in any part of the wider world. Achieving that goal will require new pro-life leadership in the Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court.