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Cardinal in Burkina Faso Cautions against “false policies” on Procreation, Family Life

Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso's Ouagadougou Archdiocese addressing pilgrims during the 26th Archdiocesan pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Yagma. Credit: Fr. Paul Dah

The Cardinal in Burkina Faso has cautioned against “false policies” on procreation and family life in Africa, including attempts to link “our poverty … to our numbers.”

“We must say NO to all anti-natalist concepts and policies,” Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo said Sunday, August 15, during the Eucharistic celebration to mark the 26th Archdiocesan pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Yagma. 

Cardinal Ouédraogo told close to 20,000 pilgrims who gathered for the event, “We must, as Christians, reject all false policies that tell us that our poverty is linked to our numbers.” 

“It is true that the Church contributes to education for responsible parenthood; but let no one be mistaken: the path to development in our countries is not primarily conditioned by birth control,” the Local Ordinary of Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou Archdiocese who doubles as the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) further said.

He added, “Let us return to our traditional values that value and promote life, let us turn to a Christianity of life, a culture of life.”

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The 76-year-old Cardinal urged African governments to instead “fight against corruption, illiteracy, bad governance and social injustices that undermine our African countries.”

In this light,

Cardinal Ouédraogo went on to underscore the role of the family in building societies and promoting human values saying the family “is the basic unit of society; it is also the first school of education, socialization and integration of the child, and by extension of the human person.”

“We are convinced that the future of our societies, and of our Church as the family of God, depends on the future of our families,” the Burkinabe Cardinal said in his homily during the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and added, “It is in families that the builders of the Church and our nations will be born.”

He emphasized the importance of prayer in the family saying, “Our Christian families should be true communities of life and love; united in prayer following the example of the family of Nazareth, which was a place of prayer.”

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“As Mother Teresa said: a family that prays together stays together,” the Cardinal said, and added, “Indeed, a family that prays together stands firm against all difficulties and tribulations.”

He continued, “This is a mission that I entrust to wives and husbands alike, to organize family prayers. Mum, Dad and the children can come together to say ‘Our Father, Hail Mary’ on a regular basis.”

Reflecting on the August 15 Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cardinal Ouédraogo said, “Mary continues to remind us every day that God always helps those who serve Him.”

“God never fails man or woman; it is man who so often fails God,” he emphasized.

Making reference to the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, which Pope Francis declared earlier this year, Cardinal Ouédraogo appealed for solidarity with the elderly regardless of tribe or religion. 

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“We should therefore, following the example of Mary, live charity by visiting all those elderly people who are lonely and who need us, even if they are not our relatives or of our religion,” the Cardinal said.

Solidarity with the elderly “is a very high form of charity,” he said, and added, “In our context of social media, this can also mean phone calls or messages, but all these means of communication should not make us forget the joy of physical presence.”

“The Assumption of Mary reminds us that God created us for life and that there is no true life except in Him. That is why we should fight to protect life: the life of the elderly, the life of our unborn children, the life of our fellow citizens, for all human life is sacred,” Cardinal Ouédraogo said in his August 15 homily.