The church’s contribution towards the national debate on abortion in Namibia.
The Roman Catholic Church from the beginning has consistently upheld the sanctity of the life of the unborn child
and condemned the act of direct abortion.
The Doctrinal Teaching of the Catholic Church through the centuries has shown that the Catholic Church, from the
beginning, took a strong stance in defence of human life and against any direct attack upon it. The early document,
the Didache categorically condemns the suppression of an innocent life: “…You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy
a new born child”. That clearly shows the concern of the early Christian community for life from its very beginning.
The respect and the necessity for protection of life in its every stage can be also found in the early councils of Elvira
(A.D. 305) and Ancyra (A.D. 314). They unanimously condemned any suppression of life from its beginning to
natural death. The last Council, Vatican Council II, the recent various Documents of the Magisterium of the Church,
numerous speeches of the Popes of the 20th and 21st century condemned the suppression of human life as a means or
end of any action and called for protecting life from the moment of conception until its natural end. In the magisterial
document Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed that: “The human
being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment
his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent
human being to life” (Sec I.1). Direct abortion, or the intentional killing of a human being living in the womb, is
always seriously immoral because the person’s right-to-life is the most basic and fundamental right we possess. Pope
St. John Paul II dedicated entirely his most important encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) to the
protection of life in its different stages. The Pope vigorously defends the right to life of the unborn child from the
moment of conception and powerfully condemns a directly procured abortion. The aim of the Evangelium Vitae is
clearly set out:
“The present encyclical, the fruit of the cooperation of the episcopate of every country of the world, is […] meant to be
a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability, and at the same time a pressing
appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!
Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness”.
Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera (Mercy and Misery) wrote: “I wish to restate as
firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and
must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to
be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey
of special reconciliation”.
From this day forward (November 20, 2016) the Pope , in virtue of his ministry, has granted to all priests the
faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. In the past the priests needed a special
faculty to absolve this particular sin.
This teaching of the Church, which has been maintained till this time, has its foundation in the permanent
values. The Church, conscious of the mandate received from Christ to teach and protect the values preached by Christ,
has never remained indifferent to the question of life, and has always referred to this value with responsibility,
devotion and fearlessness. Faithful to her mission, the Catholic Church has always professed her protection for life,
from its beginning to natural end, of the person and their eminent dignity against any deprivation. The elementary
grounds for this teaching are the dignity of human person, the fundamental right to life of the human person, and
finally the sanctity of human life taught by Christ and His followers.
The fifth commandment put it very clear. “You shall not kill”-(Exodus 20:13/Dt: 5:17/Mt 5:21-22).This affirms the
sacredness and dignity of human Life. _______________________________________________________________________________________ One may ask:
What does the church has to offer as an alternative?
1. As law abiding citizen we should constitute our self and investigate the root causes
prompting the shocking increase of abortion instead of passing the law.(look at causes,
effects and aftermath )
2. Priests should be available for counseling of the people affected and may be conducted in
their respective parishes of one’s residence in order to give the needed spiritual and
3. Continuous awareness and education of the parish as well as the public on the issue of
respect of life.
Given at the Namibian Catholic Bishops’ Conference on the 24th of April 2017 and signed by Archbishop Liborius
Ndumbukuti Nashenda OMI-president.