(Photo: Reuters/Rafael Marchante)
Angola Archbishops speaking at the Plenary Assembly of the CEAST (Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tomé) have warned that abortion is not only something that goes against the law of God, but also threatens the very existence of the African nation.
"Remembering that life is sacred 'from conception' because 'we are faced with an independent life with one own's DNA', the message stresses that 'no human being can claim the right to suppress it under any pretext. Thus, parents, friends, educators and health care operators should not recommend or facilitate abortion. Rather, they should encourage the acceptance of a new life, regardless of the circumstances in which it was conceived," Agenzia Fides reported on the bishops' comments on Thursday.
The bishops argued that the Angola culture states that abortion is a disregard for the fundamental values of society, as regardless of religion, life is always viewed as sacred. Any threat against life, including unborn life, therefore destabilizes the society, they added.
Close to 38 percent of the Angolan population identifies as Roman Catholic, according to the CIA World Factbook. Another 15 percent are Protestants, while nearly 47 percent hold indigenous beliefs. Other estimations state, however, that Catholics make up almost three-fifths of the country's 19 million citizens.
The bishops have criticized government plans to decriminalize abortion in Angola, which they said "would be a real attack on national security and to our survival as a people."
Catholic priests have strongly opposed such measures, with Archbishop Jose Queiroz of Huambo telling AFP in 2012 that the push for abortion legalization represents the state's lack of responsiblity when it comes to battling poverty and supporting Angolan women. Huambo argued that women have the right to choose when it comes to conceiving, but not when it comes to whether a human being can live.
Bishops at the recent Plenary Assembly added: "We remind everyone that Angola has been a Christian country for centuries. Therefore, it is expected that Parliament elected by a large majority of Christians and mainly composed of believers, fulfill the duty to respect the wishes of their voters," the message concludes.
Major Catholic figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still the head of the Vatican in 2009, have also spoken out in support of the Angolan ban on abortion.
Justice Minister Guilhermina Prata, who proposed an early draft in 2011 that sought to challenge the abortion ban, said that clandestine abortions have caused the death of many young girls in the country.