Synod: Interview with Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Nigeria

Interview with Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria
October 11, 2008

Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, is a past president of the African bishops’ conference and is widely considered a leading spokesperson for Catholicism in Africa. During the current Synod of Bishops on the Bible, Onaiyekan was tapped to deliver the continental report on behalf of the African bishops.

On Saturday, Onaiyekan sat down for an interview, which covered a great deal of ground: Christian/Muslim relations, Pentecostalism, African attitudes towards the Bible, the global economic crisis, and even the looming elections in the United States.

The following is a complete transcript of the interview.

There’s been considerable discussion in the synod about Judaism, but not much yet about Islam. What do you think needs to be said?

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tIt’s not too late. We still have about four or five days of interventions, and we’ve been following the Instrumentum Laboris. The mission of the church appears in the last part, which is where this subject will appear. I’m expecting to hear more.

tI can understand that Judaism has come in very strong, because we have scriptures in common – for us the Old Testament, for them the Hebrew Bible. They’re called our “elder brothers,” which I imagine is the plan of God. At the same time, if we want to be faithful to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and its document Nostrae Aetate, we have to talk about Islam. No matter what theological position one takes about the relationship between the Islamic Qur’an and our Christian Bible, we cannot escape that there is some kind of relationship. Whether it’s purely accidental and historical, or whether indeed we are allowed to imagine that there’s some kind of providential implication, theological implication, is another matter, but in any event there needs to be more discussion of the Qur’an when we talk about the Word of God.

tAlso, from a practical point of view, in my opinion the relationship with Islam has more impact on the life of the church, and the mission of the church, for a large number of bishops. The relationship with Judaism may be very important historically and so on, but on the world level, we have to deal much more with Muslims than we ever have to deal with Jews. Also, when you come to the mission of the church, the fact is that while the Jews are not interested in evangelization and proselytism, Muslims are vigorously – vigorously – converting people. They’re fishing in the same pond with us, so to speak. We have to deal with that.

You’ve said that in your experience in Nigeria, Muslims tend to know the Bible much better than Christians know the Qur’an.

tIt’s for the simple reason that, especially in earlier times, in Nigeria and many other African countries, Christian schools were far more numerous than Islamic schools, even where there are a good number of Muslims. A large number of high-level Muslims therefore passed through Christian schools, and when you are in a Christian school, you learn the Bible.

You’re not just saying that? In some other parts of the world, I’m not sure how well students in church-run schools really learn the Bible.

tIn the United States, not even Catholic students will learn the Bible in their schools! But when you’re in a Catholic school here, you learn the Bible. By the way, when the Jesuits wanted to start a Loyola Jesuit College, this was one point on which I put my foot down as the ordinary. They were getting some money from the American government, and they were very concerned to not do anything that could in any way be interpreted over there as exclusive. It had to be open to all religions, to boys and girls, and so on. I said, ‘Okay, okay.’ I insisted, however, that being open to all religions does not mean you are no longer a Catholic school. As far as our law in Nigeria is concerned, we are on safe ground. Our Catholic schools teach the Catholic religion. Parents know that, and no parent is forced to send their child to our schools. If a Muslim sends a child to a Catholic school, he knows what to expect. In fact, he would be disappointed if he didn’t find it. Corollary to that, we are not going to offer Islamic education. We are not going to build a mosque, but we are going to put a chapel in the dead center of the campus so that nobody has any doubt that this is a Catholic school.

tAt first it was difficult. They were saying, ‘we have to be open.’ I said, ‘No, on this point I put my foot down, and I’m ready to go anywhere to defend it.’ I prepared a nice paper quoting our own constitution. I told [the Jesuits], ‘I don’t care what you write in your application to the United States government. Write whatever you like. But here, for as long as I’m the archbishop, this will be a Catholic school.’ To my great joy, I later came to Rome and had the opportunity to speak with Fr. [Peter-Hans] Kolvenbach [at the time, the superior of the Jesuits]. When he heard I was the bishop of Abuja, he said, ‘I received your wonderful propositions, the things you wrote about the Jesuit college in Abuja, and especially your position on religion in the school. I want to congratulate you, it’s wonderful!’

tThat’s been our spirit, which means that most of the Muslims who have come through our schools are familiar with the Bible. Those who come to Catholic schools will not only know the Bible, but also the catechism. They are familiar with the sacraments. Of course, they won’t accept them. When I was in school, however, they were expected to go to Mass. It was part of the regulation.

You’ve told me that Muslims sometimes know more of the Bible by heart than Christians do.

tIt’s true, because memorizing scripture is part of their tradition. For example, young Muslim boys and girls in Nigeria have a choice whether or not to take Bible knowledge on the public exams. Many of them find it very easy, and they pass very well, sometimes with better scores than the Christian children. They are familiar already with memorizing sacred texts.

For Muslims who read the Bible, what is their attitude towards it?

tIt will depend on their general attitude toward Christianity. Those who see Christianity as a valid religion which others have espoused out of free choice, while they themselves espouse Islam – either out of free choice, or because their father brought them up in that line – tend to respect Christianity, and therefore they respect the Christian scriptures.

Does it ever work the other way? Can reading the Bible help a Muslim develop respect for Christianity?

tIt’s not so easy to say. You might as well ask about Christians: When they read the Bible, what happens to them? This kind of question depends on the person. You will find Muslims who are particularly religious, in the sense that this is a matter of their own personal convictions. They read all sacred books to enlighten themselves, and to know more. I know Muslims who take it upon themselves to make sure they understand the Christian scriptures, very well. They’re generally more interested in the gospels … they tend to cut out St. Paul, because the things that St. Paul talks about, especially the divinity of Christ, are things with which most Muslims don’t resonate. In fact, in the major area of his dogmatic teachings about Jesus, which is the core of St. Paul, they believe he corrupted the gospels.

The stories of the Old Testament are replicated very often in the Qur’an, though sometimes with a different emphasis … Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David and Solomon, are all there. It’s not as logically laid out as in the Old Testament, because the Qur’an has its own way of presenting things. The parables and miracles of Jesus are not in the Qur’an, but many Muslims appreciate these parts of the gospels … the parable of the Prodigal Son, for example. They have no difficulty resonating with the stories of the miracles of Jesus, because Muhammad worked miracles. They are what you expect a prophet of Allah to do. In this sense, they’re probably similar to the Jews of today, who do not see Jesus as the Son of God and therefore cannot accept much of what St. Paul was saying.

Their refusal of the greatest events of the gospels – namely, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus – is logical given their beliefs. The moment you say that Jesus is not the Son of God, then these things obviously didn’t happen. They don’t accept this whole question of redemptive death, meaning that one man could have died for all of us. If we speak so much about the redemptive death of Jesus, it’s because he was also God. But if Jesus was not God, he cannot be the redeemer, and for him to die on the cross would be useless suffering, which God cannot inflict on an innocent prophet.

Most Muslims admire the wonderful sayings of Jesus, but not all. Once in a while I’ve met Muslims who complain, for example, about some of the sayings in the Sermon on the Mount, especially about turning the other cheek to your enemies. They say it’s not right, that you should not allow evil to thrive. A Muslim has a duty to prevent evil from happening. It is not considered a holy thing to give a free hand to a bad person, you have a duty to stop them. When we discuss that, I say that you are not really that far away from us. This ‘turn the other cheek’ business is not an apodictic law, it doesn’t mean we are always obliged to do it. We definitely have a duty to stop the unjust aggressor, which is the heart of our own just war theory, and so on. More pertinent is that when Jesus was slapped by one of the servants of the High Priest, he didn’t turn the other cheek. In fact, he asked, ‘Have I said something wrong? If so, tell me. If not, why did you slap me?’ That’s not turning the other cheek? So you have to read it within this more general context. It certainly doesn’t mean that a Christian is not allowed to convict a criminal, or to defend him or herself.

That's a point with special relevance in Nigeria, where Christians have occasionally been attacked by Muslim mobs.

tWe don’t talk about a ‘Muslim mob.’ We simply say, by ‘a mob.’ But in any event, they clearly have the right of self-defense.

Do Muslims find the Christian Bible interesting?

tYes, by and large. Of course, we’re talking about Muslims who find such things interesting in general. There are many Muslims who don’t even find the Qur’an interesting, just as there are Christians who don’t find the Bible interesting. But if you come to the level of Islamic scholars, and we have many of them now, what I said about Muslims in general is true of them as well. They are more familiar with the Christian scriptures than our own scholars are with the Qur’an.

Is there a need for Catholic scholars to become more familiar with the Qur’an?

tIn the countries where you have many Muslims, it’s essential. If you’re not familiar with the Qur’an, how are you able to understand what moves the Muslims?

Do you teach the Qur’an in your seminary?

tWe teach Islam. We engage Muslim scholars to teach it. We want the young students to know Islam. It’s not as if we don’t have priests who could teach these subjects, but strategically it’s better to have Muslims do it. When I was the rector, I engaged an Islamic scholar from the university.

Are there any Christian scholars teaching in the Muslim schools?

tThey don’t have seminaries like we do, so the question doesn’t really apply. I don’t think they will invite Christians to come and teach Christianity in their Muslim schools where they send their children, for the same reason that I won’t invite a Muslim scholar to come and teach Islam in my secondary school. However, the majority of schools in Nigeria are neither Muslim nor Christian but government schools, and in those schools they teach both Christianity and Islam, and the children are free to choose.

In practical terms, how can he Bible be used to promote Christian/Muslim dialogue?

tFor one thing, you have to come to a reading of the Bible that emphasizes those sections which make good relations with others easier, and handle with a certain amount of care those sections which complicate relationships – not only with Muslims, but with non-Christians in general.

tFor example, consider the text: ‘Unless a man is born again of water and the Spirit, he will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ To just take that at face value is difficult, unless you begin to broaden the concept of what it means to be ‘born again of water and the Spirit.’ If it literally means just those who have been formally baptized, then, before you even talk about Muslims, it would condemn all my ancestors. It would mean that all my ancestors are down there in hell.

Obviously, you can’t accept that.

tI can’t accept it. In fact, we’re told that in earlier days, many Africans, when faced with such claims, replied that they would rather go and join their ancestors in hell than follow the missionaries to their heaven, where they would be all alone. Obviously, you need to look at that text in a different way if you live in this kind of culture.

What can you do together concretely? For example, can Christians and Muslims do Bible study, or Qur’an study, together?

tYou have to distinguish what you can do in normal, everyday life, and what you can do with experts. Studying the sacred texts together is probably something for the experts. In normal life, when we meet Muslims, you can talk about the Bible. When someone says ‘Let us pray,’ you can read from the Bible. They will listen devotedly, with respect for the Word of God you are reading. Often they will then recite some verses from the Qur’an, and sometimes when they finish, they will translate it into the local language.

We try to promote an attitude of mutual respect. I don’t have to agree with your Qur’an before I can listen respectfully when you read it, since I know it is the Word of God for you. I expect them to adopt the same attitude when I am reading my Bible.

There are 70 million Muslims in Nigeria, and roughly the same number of Christians. How many of those Muslims are open to what you’re talking about?

tThe majority, the majority. In fact, we have a much greater problem with the experts who have studied in Iran, or in Al-Azhaar in Cairo, and who have been indoctrinated in the line that the Qur’an is God’s correction of, and improvement upon, the Bible. The ordinary Muslim sees the Bible as the sacred book of Christians, and the Qur’an as their own sacred book. They accept the fact of the difference, they don’t argue about it.

Does the Bible play any role in generating conversions to Christianity from Islam in Nigeria?

tThe fact is that there has been a major wave of conversion from Islam to Christianity. If you see the number of Christians in Nigeria whose family name is Muslim, it’s considerable. This is partly because of Christian evangelization, which has been vigorous and still is today, we are still converting people. The law in Nigeria does not forbid conversion, in either direction. In general, I would say that more Muslims become Christian than Christians become Muslim.

tAnother aspect, at least in the colonial era and so on, is that there was a curious approach to the question of who is a Muslim. In earlier periods, when the king of the tribe became a Muslim, he would say that everybody in the tribe was now a Muslim. The society would be organized along Muslim lines, in which case everybody got a Muslim name. They were not really Muslims, however, at heart. Many of these people, when they hear the gospel message, become Christians. They never really had a religion before.

tTo complete the picture, we now have the virulent preaching of fundamentalists and Pentecostals. We’re seeing isolated cases of Muslims who convert and join the Pentecostal churches, and, as is often the case with converts, they become very aggressive Pentecostals. They sometimes preach in a way that is not helpful to us, because they provoke a lot of reactions. They’re like ex-Catholics in Latin America who become Pentecostals, and become virulently anti-Catholic. Most of them were never very convinced Catholics in the first place, and they imagine all Catholics are like what they used to be. We’re now seeing more or less the same thing among some Muslims.

We heard Cardinal Polycarp Pengo from Tanzania talk about defections from Catholicism to the Pentecostals across Africa. Are you seeing that in Nigeria?

tHe used the word ‘exodus,’ but I think that’s a bit too strong. There’s no need to panic. In absolute terms, the numbers aren’t that great, and our churches are still overflowing. You’ve seen it yourself. Also, when you go to a Pentecostal revival, half of those people were at Mass on Sunday morning, and they’ll be at Mass the next Sunday. They have not left the church. They go because they like the preaching and the music and so on, but they are still Catholic.

How many Catholics in Nigeria have actually left to become Pentecostal?

tThere are some, but in my experience there are not large numbers. I’ve asked the parishes to take a count. We want to have proper statistics. I said to the pastors, ‘Surely you should know as a parish priest how many of your members have stopped coming to church and are now in a Pentecostal church.’ I want those statistics. Plus, you know, the Pentecostals are a bit like the Muslims. They tend to say, ‘All these other Christians are joining us,’ which is not true.

What are your ecumenical relations like with the Pentecostals?

tI’m in a particular situation, because I’m the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria. In a sense, I’m the head of all Christians in Nigeria, so I have to embrace all of them. I’ve not found it difficult to do. Of course, I make it clear to everyone that we are not yet a united church, and that the Christian Association of Nigeria is not a ‘super-church.’

tRelations with the Pentecostals are not a problem, because in the Christian Association of Nigeria we are focused on common concerns of a social and political nature. We have a lot of difficulties going into theology. We can do that with the mainstream Protestant churches, but that’s because we’re not starting from scratch. For example, we have a relationship with the Anglicans, and the agenda is largely how to bring down to a Nigerian level the conversation that’s already going on at the international level … ARCIC and so on. It’s the same thing with the Methodists.

Do you and your Anglican and Methodist counter-parts sometimes feel you have more in common with one another than with your co-religionists in the West?

tThere are issues where that’s true, in particular with what’s happening nowadays within Anglicanism. There’s a major crisis, although it’s not so much about theology as it is morality. For a long time, I’ve always said that in cultural terms, I feel more in communion with the Anglican Archbishop of Abuja than with the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago … not any particular archbishop, but in terms of the things we have in common and our concerns about the church. I’m not talking about orthodoxy, but matters of church life.

Apart from Islam and the Pentecostals, what would you see as the important issues in this synod?

tFor example, Vatican II said that all Christians should have wide access to the Word of God, to the scriptures. ‘Wide access’ means different things at different levels, but it starts from the simple availability of the Biblical text. In Europe, it’s no problem to acquire a Bible. They’re all over the place, and they don’t cost much. In some parts of Africa, however, the cost can be equivalent to a whole month’s salary. It’s not as if it’s easy and cheap. While many Protestant groups have made this their priority, so they raise funds to produce Bibles at affordable prices, our church has not made a similar commitment. Sometimes we’ve operated on the assumption that it’s not important if you have a Bible as long as you come to Mass regularly, because you will hear the Word of God at Mass, it will be preached to you. Now, I think we’re clear that Catholics should have the Bible.

tA related problem is that non-Catholics probably spend more time reading and studying the Bible than we do. The ministerial formation and training of a Protestant pastor is heavily scriptural. They even call their seminaries ‘Bible schools.’ That’s what they do there. The flip side, of course, is that sometimes they’re so focused on the Bible that they’re quite ignorant about church history, even about dogma, to say nothing of moral theology. There’s also not much to talk about with regard to liturgy. Even though we have seven, eight, nine years of priestly formation, we’ve got a lot of subjects on the agenda, which doesn’t leave much room for the Bible. The synod is talking about how to improve Biblical formation.

t There’s also the problem that there are still many languages in which the Bible is not available. It’s good to be able to hear the Word of God in your own language, even if you speak English. Added to that is the people who don’t speak English, and who don’t understand English.

What percentage of Nigerians speak English?

tI have no scientific statistics, so I can only guess. My guess would be maybe fifty, sixty percent. That’s higher than the percentage of Nigerians who are literate, because there are many Nigerians who can speak English but who can’t read and write.

tThose who are both illiterate and don’t speak English often have access to the Bible only in other languages, which are also not their own. We have the phenomenon not only in Africa but also in much of Asia that there are some languages which become almost like a lingua franca covering a whole region, which many people can understand. For example, the Bible in the Hausa language is used all over northern Nigeria, but northern Nigeria has many languages. A lot of people therefore only have access to the Bible in a language that is not their own.

The ideal would be to get them the Bible in their own language?

tYes. The synod wants to launch a new effort to translate the Bible into many, many new languages, but you have to have the criteria, the priorities. Which languages are you going to invest in? Normally, the number of people who speak that language counts. On the other hand, the fact that only 5,000 people speak a language does not mean that language is unimportant.

tThere’s also the issue of the new media … computers, i-pods, and so on. They can help bridge the communications gap, in ways that can sometimes almost be a contradiction in terms. There are parts of Africa where there is no electricity, no telephone lines, but the cell phone works! We need to take advantage of those opportunities.

It’s often said that the worldview of the Bible, especially its emphasis on the supernatural and the miraculous, is more at home in Africa than it is in the West. Do you agree?

tOf course. We’re a culture that has not totally espoused the secularized concept of the world. Of course, even in Europe the Biblical world-view was at home for a long time, until quite recently. From the interventions in the synod hall, what I’m hearing is precisely that even this Western world, which claims that the Biblical worldview doesn’t make sense anymore … bishops from the West are saying that somehow this worldview still speaks to us.

Can Africa evangelize the West?

tWhy not? My answer to that is, first of all, to remember that Asia Minor evangelized Europe. Those who came here to Europe to evangelize it were from the Middle East. Europe then came to Africa to evangelize us, though strictly speaking we first received the Christian faith from Egypt and Ethiopia, not from Ireland. The Syriac fathers, even though they were monophysites, had great missionaries who went as far as Japan and China. Now, it’s a globalized world, a global village, so it’s not really important if the evangelizer is an African or whatever. Take an international organization like Shell/BP. I have a nephew who works for Shell. He’s based in the Netherlands, in Rotterdam, and he’s a high-level official.

I wonder how many bishops in Europe and North America today might be thinking that if they need a scripture scholar, they should get a Nigerian.

tThat’s happening already. In fact, one of the experts at this synod is a Nigerian, although he doesn’t appear on the lists as a Nigerian. He’s listed as an American, Fr. [Peter Damian] Akpunonu … he’s teaching at Mundelein College. He’s been there for a long time.

tOf course, if you’re teaching scripture, it’s not enough just to have a ‘feel’ for scripture. You still have to communicate it to the students. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.

Has there been any echo of the global economic crisis inside the synod?

tVery little has been said so far. I think the thing is that the bishops are still dazed, they’re not yet clear in their minds what exactly is happening. I have the impression that they don’t feel competent enough to start making statements on this issue in the synod hall. The main thing we’ve heard, and it was important, came from the pope himself. He said this whole crisis points to a major weakness in the priorities that the world has set for itself, and challenges us to think more carefully. That’s what I’m hearing him say.

tAs time goes on, and as the repercussions trickle down from Wall Street and the world of high finance to the daily lives of the people, especially to the poor, we’ll be more pressed to say something about it. People will be asking, what’s hitting us? Already we’re hiring that the crisis is not only hitting your retirement plans and your mortgages, but also philanthropic foundations in the West, which depend upon big chunks of money from big business. That could have a direct impact on the church in Africa, because it could affect Catholic foundations that support us such as Misereor and Missio … we don’t yet, but maybe by next year we’ll begin to feel it when our applications will be turned back.

You said recently that if, as you believe, the fundamental architecture of the global economy is flawed and unjust, maybe the fact that it’s falling apart is not such a bad thing.

tFor us in Africa, yes, that’s true. We’ve been complaining about this for a long time. There’s a system there which keeps poor nations in poverty, no matter what efforts we make. People in the poor nations are neither lazy nor stupid. They work hard and get nothing for it, or worse, they work hard and other people take it away. If I’m hearing what is trickling down from the media, both in Europe and in America, there’s a call now for a major review of what’s happening, that it’s not going to be ‘business as usual’ anymore. Those of us in poor countries should consider that a welcome development, provided that in the new structure which is going to be built, truth and justice will play a stronger role.

tIn Italian, they talk about the economia reale, the “real economy.” That’s contrasted with the virtual economy. It’s the real economy that creates wealth, while the virtual economy manipulates figures. People have become billionaires manipulating figures. If there will now be more attention to the real economy, especially as it affects the poor, then the crisis will have accomplished something positive.

Are you optimistic about that?

tYou want my honest answer? I’m afraid I’m not, for two reasons.

First, those who are now trying to engineer a response to the crisis are not thinking about a more just world. Whatever they will do will be aimed at fixing the damage, not changing the system. As much as possible, they would like to go back to business as usual. ‘It’s a little setback, but hopefully we’ll recover in three years’ time and the party can continue.’ In other words, the angle I’m looking at – was the system just in the first place? – is not a major priority.

Second, those leaders who normally should speak for the poor and weak countries, who should take this opportunity to jump into the discourse, to insist on being at the table where this new architecture is being designed, are too busy with their selfish agenda. They’re asking, ‘How are my investments doing?’, not, ‘How can we change this system?’We’re where we are in part because in the poor countries, we have leaders who keep the existing structures in place, and they’re maintained in power as long as they do that. They lose power if they seriously want to change the situation.

In just three weeks, the United States may elect the first African-American president in our history. As an African, does that mean anything to you?

tOf course it does. By the way, you in the States refer to Obama as “African-American,” but we call him “American-African.” We actually don’t understand why he’s more American than African. I mean, he’s 50-50.

tIf you want me to be very frank, we’re still not sure he can be elected. My friends in Nigeria tell me that it looks too good to be true. There are many who are suggesting that after all the hullabaloo and high-sounding talk is over, after Obama has won all the debates because he’s a brilliant gentleman and so on, at the end of the day he’s still going to be seen by the majority of Americans as a black man, and when they are left alone in the voting booth, you don’t know how they are going to vote.

What would it mean if he does win?

tIf that happens, it would have a good impact for the United States on the rest of the world. It would mean that for the first time, we would begin to think that the Americans are really serious in the things they say about freedom and equality and all that. For a long time, we’ve been feeling that you don’t really mean it, that they’re just words. Our impression is that the blacks are really just decorations, with Colin Powell today, Condoleeza Rice tomorrow, but that the real center of power is there with the Cheneys and the Rumsfelds.

You think the election of Obama would make a lot of Africans feel better about America?

tOh, yes. You know, there’s a lady in Nigeria who ran a big fund-raiser for Obama, and she got into trouble. For one thing, Obama didn’t want it. Secondly, she’s the elected secretary of the Nigerian stock exchange, and she got banks to put millions and millions of naira [the Nigerian currency] into this fund. She said it’s not meant to help Obama in his campaign, but it was meant to help African-Americans who have difficulty getting out to vote. Of course, it didn’t work. The anti-graft agency got involved, and she had to give the money back. But that tells you how people feel.

What if he loses?

tPeople will say, ‘Of course, we told you.’ Precisely because everything is pointing in favor of Obama, the only thing against him would seem to be his color. If he loses, people will naturally think, ‘those Americans are racist.’

You’re talking about popular impressions. Do you personally believe the election of Obama would change America’s role in the world in terms of the policies he might pursue?

tI’m not a prophet. The idea we have, that we still have, is that there are those who are in office in America, and there are those who in power. Those in power are there permanently, they don’t change, and those who are in office are there to carry out the whims of those in power. No matter who you are, there are certain parameters within which you must operate, and even Obama can’t change that.

If you had a vote, would you vote for Obama?

tObviously, if I had a vote.

Even though he’s pro-choice?

tLet me put it this way: The fact that you oppose abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life. You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions, through war, through poverty, and so on. That’s my own way of looking at it. Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that it’s killing innocent life. I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent. If my choice is between the person who makes room for abortion but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesn’t support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death.

The choice is not just between a pro-abortion and an anti-abortion person. It’s bigger than that. It’s a whole package, and you never get a politician who will please you in everything. You always have to pick and choose. As they say in Rome, if you don’t take the pasta because of the sauce, then you take the sauce because of the pasta!


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