Headline: Choosing Life Over DeathPosted on: 2015-04-19
Life is supreme.
Soccer, for many in contemporary times, is like a religion. Many people get completely enraptured by the rush of emotion during games, enthralled by the hype of soccer superstars and fascinated by the huge sums of money they earn. Many die-hard fans of the game make outrageous claims about their clubs and stars. The adulation of those stars often attains idolatrous levels, making those footballers feel like gods. A fair example was the case of Eric Cantona, former forward of Manchester United Football Club (FC), who once got himself sketched out as Jesus Christ to the admiration of his hypnotized fans, though many people lamented the blasphemous act. Coaches and managers of football teams also share in the adulation and deification depending on their level of success in the game. Imagine how refreshing it was to hear recently that the maverick and highly successful coach of Chelsea FC of the Premier League in England refused to adopt such absurd soccer culture. He questioned the influence of footballers on society saying that people from other walks of life deserve much greater recognition and status than are given to Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, currently the two world greatest footballers. "We don't save lives", he said. "I know that people can jump from a fifth floor because their team lost a game but that person has problems". Mourinho, an unlikely advocate of good sense, nailed what many people have lost in our day - knowledge of the supreme importance of life in respect to all other endeavors and interest.
God alone gives and takes life
"Thou shall not kill", so runs the Sixth Commandment. "Can any of you add anything to his life"? (Ex. 20, Matt. 6) Such admonitions from the Bible bring to the fore the fact that God is the sole controller, giver and taker of human life. Our present society and environment is growing in disdain for human life, judging from the amount of killing and death all around. It is in order to reawaken society to the respect for human life at every stage and for the family institution which generates it that the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, last week, hosted an International Pro-Life/Pro Family Conference, entitled "Protecting Human Life and Family Values in the Rising Tide of the Culture of Death" at the Pope John Paul II centre of the Catholic Chaplaincy in the University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Advocating a new attitude to life and family
The Conference of about 1000 participants from 9 dioceses called attention to the hidden dangers in the current general nonchalance to anti-life and anti-family values and practices in Nigeria. It also aligned people of goodwill with the intention of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has convoked two Synods on the means of sustaining and supporting marriage and family life, one of which was held in October 2014 and the other to hold in October 2015 in the Vatican. The Ibadan Conference brought together Pro-life, Marriage and Family advocates and resource persons, leaders, stakeholders from Africa and Europe and the general public to reflect with the Church in the Province of Ibadan on strategies for promoting the dignity of human life and the family as the foundation of the Culture of Life. The Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Reverend Gabriel Leke Abegunrin, at a Press Conference before the event said: "The present situation of continual bloodshed due to wanton killing, terrorism, inter ethnic conflicts, ritual killing, armed robbery, murders, traffic accidents and suicide in Nigeria seriously calls to question our identity as Africans and our civility as a nation. As general elections continue in Nigeria we feel compelled to speak up for respect for human life and dignity and the recovery of family values among our peoples".
Important insights on life and family
1. Every conceived child is formed and perfected in the image and likeness of God. Human life therefore begins at the moment of conception, and must be protected until natural death. Nigerians love life, they welcome children as precious gifts, celebrate motherhood and uphold marriage as a union between man and woman. Every child therefore deserves a home and the love and care of a father and a mother.
2. 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.
3. The family is God’s precious gift to humanity which ought to be continually cherished. It is the bedrock and foundation of the development of a better society because it has the primary role of educating children which provides formation of character and ensures ethical living.
4. The lie of same-sex unions must be considered grossly disordered, as a phenomenon which should never be given legal status in Nigeria. It harms the innocence of children, degrades marriage and family life and destabilizes society, now and in the future.
The Conference also called on government and good willed institutions to protect the family from Secular Humanist theories and lobbies which attempt to remove God from the life and practice of the general populace. "Government must recognize and respect the primordial origin of the family and do its profound moral duty to protect the weakest and the most vulnerable human beings from all threats. Professionals and practitioners of media particularly have a special responsibility before God in this regard". May this laudable attempt by the Church to refocus our society on the sanctity of life and the family achive positive results for the Common Good in Nigeria.
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