Two of the most contentious issues in modern history-the protection of the environment and the rights of unborn children have found an interesting link in the eyes of a leading African Catholic Bishop.
During his homily on the occasion of the National Prayer Day in Kenya on October 1, Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kenya’s Kisumu Archdiocese compared the protection of the environment to the protection of the first stages of human life and called on all to cooperate with God in caring for all that He created.
“A baby inside the mother’s womb is still human and not just anything, but the handiwork of God that is totally different from the mother’s body,” Archbishop Muhatia said.
“The mother is just the baby’s environment,” he explained.
In an apparent dig at pro-abortion activists, the Cleric noted that denying a babe’s right to life is akin to taking the place of God, who remains the author of all life and therefore is the only authority to determine when life ends.
“When man tries to take the place of God, he starts making decisions that are completely against God’s intentions,” the 54-year-old cleric said.
He said: “safeguarding the environment and respecting human life fosters our relationship with God, “and added that “When we destroy human life and the environment, we cause the Holy Spirit much pain.”
Both the environment and the rights of unborn babies have in recent years become hot-button political issues, even if they vary from country to country.
Some, like many on the left, have argued that fetuses do not have a separate legal personality from their mothers until they are born and that women are free to make choices against medical advice, so long as they have the mental capacity to make an informed decision.
But in noting that the baby in the womb is “totally different” from the mother, the Kenyan Bishop makes nonsense of such arguments.
In like manner, those, particularly on the right who argue that economic considerations should take precedence over environmental protection also find themselves on the wrong side of God’s plan for man, according to the Kenyan cleric.
He underscored the need for man to manage the environment in ways that are sustainable, and that guarantees the survival of future generations, the same way the women’s body is fashioned to guarantee the survival of the unborn child.
“God gave us the permission to exploit the earth for food, but in the process, let’s safeguard the environment by not cutting down trees for charcoal and other uses,” the cleric pleaded.
“Good environment supplements human life while bad environment makes life unbearable,” he said, adding that the human person “has been given the power to safeguard and not to destroy the environment.”
The Cleric’s comments come barely a month before the COP27 summit scheduled to take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-November 18.
As the world prepares for the COP27, Pope Francis has pointed out that it will provide the world with an “opportunity to work together for an effective implementation of the Paris Agreement” in the hope that humanity will be remembered for having assumed its grave responsibilities for the impact of climate change.”
“Let us #Pray together during this #SeasonOfCreation so that the UN COP27 and COP15 Summits might unite the human family in decisively confronting the double crisis of climate change and the reduction of biodiversity,” Francis tweeted on September 1.
The Supreme Pontiff called on large extractive corporations to “stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, stop polluting rivers and seas, and stop poisoning people and food.”
In the build-up to COP27, Catholic actors across Africa have been building significant momentum that could dictate proceedings in Egypt.
Church leaders have been involved in a series of high-profile meetings to elaborate a common African position at the COP27.
One issue is the concept of Loss and Damage-the need to compensate communities that have suffered significant loss and damage because of climate change.
Father Leonard Chiti (SJ), Provincial for Southern Africa, said: “We are now in the era of Loss and Damage. All over the world, climate impacts are taking hold, causing deep and painful suffering for millions of people. It is a moral imperative that world leaders respond to this at COP27 and deliver a financial package for communities impacted by Loss and Damage. “
And the chairperson of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA), Bishop Charles Kasonde, said that “as children of God, we have a duty to care for all of His creation. We are also called to care for the poor in all that we do. It is vitally important that our response to the climate crisis is one that puts the needs of the poor first. At COP27, that means supporting finance for the issue of Loss and Damage.”
But Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kenya has a simple prescription as to how best to care for all creation: “Let’s look for other sources of livelihood that do not involve the destruction of the environment,” he said.