A Courageous Cardinal
When I was a newcomer to Kenya many years ago (1942), I remember hearing a lot from the priests on the staff of Mangu High School about a boy named Maurice Otunga. Maurice was the star player on the school soccer team and apart from his skill in shooting goals; he was noted for his physical courage. He was the son of one of the most important chiefs in Kenya at the time and was a possible successor to the title.
But shortly after Maurice graduated from High School, word began to spread that he was thinking of becoming a priest. At that time there was no senior seminary in East Africa, so Maurice was sent to Rome, where he studies and was ordained. He returned to Kenya, and after working for some years in parishes, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, and a few years later, he was made a Cardinal. He is the first Cardinal of Kenya.
Another young man from Kenya named Francis Muroki, whom I met at the HLI Conference in Montreal a year or so ago, has started a pro-life magazine in Nairobi, entitled The Family. I received the Oct/Dec issue the other day. On the front page there is an article entitled “The Condemned Condoms”.
The article says, “The l9th of August this year will remain a remarkable day in the history of Kenya and especially to young families growing up in the face of this ‘city in the sun’. It witnessed one of the greatest and rare occasions, when the head of the Catholic church in Kenya, Cardinal Maurice Otunga, joined his hands with his Muslim brother, Imam Ali Shee in defence of life.”
Surrounded by hundreds of Christians and Muslims, in the glare of Kenya TV cameras, the Cardinal and the Imam set ablaze contrabands of and sex propaganda literature in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park grounds. Speaking in the Park, the Cardinal urged all the people lay and religious, to encourage one another in this fight for life. “If they destroy life they destroy themselves” he said. The Cardinal revealed that Kenya is one of the countries targeted for population control by the leaders of the “So called First World.”
The hundreds of youth, both boys and girls, who attended the event, threw condoms and pills into the fire. This was being watched on TV by thousands – possibly millions – of young Africans and could have a tremendous effect in convincing them of the untold evil of contraception and its inevitable consequence, abortion on demand.
The event was also a public reaction to the proposed sex education programme which the Kenya “Government wants to start in the schools. This would, of course, include encouragement in the use of condoms and the practice of abortion. The Muslim Imam challenged the ruling party to hold a national referendum to find out whether parents wish their children to receive this kind of “education”. Speaking of the pressures from the “developed countries” the Cardinal said, “They think they know a lot, but they know very little when they advance condom culture on Kenya.”
The condom burning event was organized by Youth for Life, a group of Catholic young people who have their HQ in Nairobi but have branches all over the country, Father John Tortalla, a Cottolengo Missionary, provides them with their moral and spiritual needs. He is well known among Kenyan youth because of his militant stand to protect them against “the international conspiracy to destroy their moral fibre.” Judging by the event described in the article, he seems to be succeeding in his efforts.
The “Burning Process” was followed by a silent march through the streets of Nairobi. The article describes it thus: “The two leaders flagged off a silent march of a large group of youth, carrying banners which bore different messages, condemning abortion and contraception, while others castigated the proposed sex education programme. Some of the banners read “Abortion is killing a child,” “Use your will and not the pill,” “Sex is sacred in marriage.” They were watched not only by hundreds of Africans, but also by European and American tourists.
After the march, the Cardinal celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the Catholic Church of the Nazarene. At the conclusion, he said, “We thank you brothers and sisters from Islam for joining us. But we have just begun the fight for life.”
And so the young man, who fifty years ago, displayed noted physical courage on the field of play, now displays to an even wider audience a more important kind of courage – the moral courage to stand up publicly for the right to life of all people, and not to succumb to what has become the blight of what are incorrectly called “The Developed Nations.” I refer to scourge of “political correctness,” which has weaseled its way not only into secular society but into the Church.