BISHOP CESARE BONIVENTO PIME
Pastoral Letter on Abortion
THE LIFE OF THE UNBORN CHILD
IS MOST PRECIOUS IN THE EYES OF GOD
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Re: On the duty of Christian People to protect the lives of the unborn children.
I have to warn you of a great tragedy that is about to strike our beloved country if we do
not act promptly to stop it.
Some groups of people in Papua New Guinea are pressuring the Government to legalize
abortion; that means to allow and to assist the mothers to kill their babies, still in their
wombs, if they or their families do not want them.
According to those groups, the Government should legalize abortion in order to avoid the
mother‟s death caused by illegal abortion and also when the unborn child is affected by
HIV/AIDS, or when the mother is sick, or when the family is poor. In their opinion, if we
legalize abortion we could save a lot of mothers and improve the quality of life in our
Unfortunately no consideration at all is given to the child in the womb of the mother and
to the moral aspect of abortion. For those people the child is nobody, it has no right at all,
it is something the mother can dispose of at her wish, especially when the unborn child
would bring her shame or be a risk to her health, or when she is forced to have an
abortion by her husband or by the Doctors. Also no consideration is given to the countries
that went through the experience of legal abortion, and now struggle in order to eliminate
the bad consequences of legal abortion.
If those groups succeed in legalizing abortion the future of our country is jeopardized and
we will be facing one of the greatest tragedies to strike our country, and one of the
greatest humiliations to our Melanesian culture which has the utmost respect for life and
considers life sacred and above all other traditional values such as community,
relationship and exchange. The consequences of such a law will be irreparable, from the
moral, social, and economic points of view.
It is my duty in this moment to remind everybody in the Diocese that abortion is evil for
the following reasons:
1. Human life is the most precious life in the whole creation, because it has been
created in the image of God himself. After creating heaven and earth, all the plants
and animals God said in Gen. 1:26-27: "Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the
air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that
creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he
created him; male and female he created them.”
2. No one can under any circumstance directly destroy an innocent human being.
When Cain killed his brother Abel, God confirmed the preciousness of human life
with terrible words: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is
crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has
opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.” (Gen. 4: 10-11).
God confirmed the sacredness and the inviolability of human life when he gave to
Moses the Ten Commandments. The fifth one says: “Do not kill.” In other words:
under no circumstances, is a human being permitted to kill another innocent human
3. The unborn child is a human being and its life is sacred because it has been
given directly by God. The baby still in its mother‟s womb is a human being, with a
body and soul, created immediately by God, and cared for by God. No child is
conceived, if God does not create its soul. In the Bible, Psalm 139 (vv. 15-16) says
that God himself is knitting together the bones of the child. “When my bones were
being formed, carefully put together in my mother‟s womb, when I was growing in
secret you knew that I was there, you saw me before I was born”. And the Prophet
Isaiah (49: 1) says that he was known by God when he was still in the womb of his
mother. He says: “The Lord called me from the womb; from the body of my mother
he named my name.” And in Jr. 1: 5, we come to know that God knows all of us
even before we appeared in the womb of our mothers. In fact God says: “Before I
formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
(Jr. 1: 5).
4. Human life is sacred even though sometimes it may be the fruit of a sinful or of
an unjust act. Even though a new life may be the fruit of premarital sex, or adultery,
or rape, etc. that life is nevertheless sacred because it has been given directly by God.
If there is human life in the womb of a woman who sinned or who has been the victim
of an unjust aggression, it is because there is a soul in it, and that soul has been
created by God himself. We have to respect the sacredness of such a life, even though
sometimes it is the fruit of a sin. Jesus himself accepted having some ancestors who
were born out of a sin: e.g. Perez. By accepting that, he taught us that human life is
sacred in any case, and must always be respect by everybody.
5. The life of the unborn child is protected by the 5th Commandment, which says:
“Do not kill.” This Commandment is absolute: we are forbidden to kill anybody,
even though the person is sick, or old, or bad, or she is still in the womb of the
mother. Nobody can suppress a human life, because any human life has been created
directly by God. No personal decision or human law can justify a mother who kills
her unborn child. To do that means to put oneself in the place of God. But that has
terrible consequences. We read in the Bible that King Pharaoh ordered the killing of
all the baby boys at the time of Moses: it was the beginning of the end of his power,
which was destroyed by God in the Red Sea. (Ex 14)
6. Human life must be protected from the moment of conception. It is nature itself
which teaches us so. Medical sciences reveal that since the first moment of
conception the new life is complete in itself and different from the life of the mother.
The fertilized ovum (or embryo) is not a part of the body of the mother. It is simply a
new life, with its own identity, different from that of the mother. Medical sciences
reveal also that everything is foreseen in nature in such a way that the new life is
protected, fed, and intended to grow to maturity in nine months. Following the law of
nature and of the Bible the Church teaches us that: “Human life must be respected
and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of
his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -
among which are the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (Catechism of
the Catholic Church, CCC No. 2270)
7. The parents are the first called by God to take care of their unborn child from
the moment of conception. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Since it
must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo (it means the first stage of
the human life in the womb of the mother) must be defended in its integrity, cared for,
and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being”.
In our Diocese there is a great respect for life and a great love for the unborn children.
Unfortunately now there are some people telling the mothers that they have the right
to get rid of their unborn children, if they do not want them. To strengthen our
Christian families to continue to show great love to the unborn children I remind
everybody that abortion is an unspeakable crime, punished by the Church with
excommunication. To kill a human being who can protect itself is already a grave sin
punished by God, as God made us understand when he punished Cain. However to
kill an innocent and defenseless human being like the unborn child, is still a worse
sin. This sin is abominable or unspeakable in front of the Lord. In order to help us to
understand the gravity of such action the Church punishes the sin of abortion with the
penalty of excommunication. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2272) we
read that: “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church
attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human
life…. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she
makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the
innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.”
8. Civil society has the duty to protect human life from conception, because the
unborn child is a person, like any other person already born. Human Law must
reinforce Divine Law. Human Law is good when it respects and enforces the Divine
Law, especially the Ten Commandments. Human Law must never oblige its citizens
to disobey God‟s Law, because in such a case Christians have no alternative: they
have to obey God rather than men. This is the teaching coming from the Apostles:
when the members of the Council told the Apostles Peter and John not to preach in
the name of Jesus they replied: “„Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to
you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have
seen and heard." (Act. 4: 18-20). By teaching that abortion is an unspeakable crime,
the Church teaches us that no Civil Law has the power to invalidate the Divine Law.
The Bible teaches us that the killing of the babes of Bethlehem was an unspeakable
crime, even though it was ordered by King Herod.
9. The experience of other countries tells us that legal abortion will have very
negative consequences for our country. Abortion has never brought anything good
to the countries that approved it. If approved in our country, we will experience the
same consequences. It means:
Many women will be forced to have abortion, especially those who have an
Adulteries, incest, rapes will increase rapidly, because people will think that
they can fix up any problem by going to the hospital and having an abortion.
In this way legal abortion will cause a breakdown in morality all over the
Abortion both legal and illegal will increase enormously, as has happened in
all other countries that have legalized abortion.
All the women who undergo abortion will have grave psychological, physical,
and sometimes lethal consequences.
Human life will be depreciated and considered a commodity, which can be
utilized and disposed of at our wish.
The population will rapidly decrease. Abortion and HIV/AIDS will decimate
Our work force population will decrease with fast negative consequences for
10. The consequences of legal abortion have always been very negative especially for
the women. Everything that is in the woman is in order to give life, not death. To
make her become an instrument of death, means to crush her dignity, her deepest
identity, and to damage her health. We must never forget that when we do anything
against nature, nature will take revenge in one way or in another. If the abortionists
say that abortion is a little medical procedure of no importance, with no consequence
at all for the health of the mother, you have to know that that is a great lie, because
we have the witness of countless women who regret having had an abortion and who
have been physically and psychologically damaged. We know, too, that some women
die from complications following an abortion. It is sufficient to consult the internet.
11. Abortion is not safe even if it is performed in the hospital. The message saying
that legal abortion is safe, if it is performed in the hospital, is false, because no
abortion is safe, not even those performed in the hospital. This is a conclusion coming
from the experience of countries that have approved abortion. Abortion will never be
safe for the following reasons:
First of all abortion in itself causes psychological trauma with many physical
and sometimes lethal side-effects. No Doctor can conceal the grave
psychological effects of Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) that affects all
women all life long to the point that some of them commit suicide.
Secondly the risk of numerous physical side-effects is very high. It is
sufficient to read the article entitled “How Safe Is Abortion?” by Beverly
McMillan, M.D., which can be found at the Elliot Institute website in order to
be aware of that. She says: “The most common, immediate, and short-term
complications include excessive bleeding, chronic and acute infections,
intense pain, high fever, convulsions, shock, coma, incomplete removal of the
baby or placenta (which can cause life-threatening infections and sterility),
pelvic inflammatory disease, punctured or torn uteruses, and even death.”
Thirdly it can cause death, which can occur at the moment of abortion or later
due to various side-effects, like breast cancer caused by abortion.
There is an association in the USA called “Legal action for women”, which
collects all the complaints from women who have suffered injuries or who
have faced death because of their abortions. There are hundred and hundreds
of such complaints. Anybody can consult their website.
12. We must mobilize our Diocese to protect life. In this moment every Christian is to
feel responsible for the future of our nation. We cannot allow that, because of our
laziness, some people will compromise our future and will damage our country so
gravely. This is why everybody is called to be very active in repelling the move for
legal abortion. We have to do that in the following ways:
A. By preaching and teaching and learning. We have to utilize:
Our preaching in the Holy Mass and
in the Sunday School,
at the time of preparation for Confession, Holy Communion, and
Confirmation, and especially for the Sacrament of Marriage,
in order to remind everybody that the unborn child is a human being and that his
life is sacred and no one can dispose of it. For that reason we have to organize
formation courses and general meetings at the parish and diocesan level.
B. By action. We must give special assistance to the mothers in difficulty, either
because they conceived the child out of the wedlock, or they are poor, or they
have already had many children, or they have been raped. Those are difficult
moments for any mother. If there are no people to assist them, to comfort them,
and to provide them with what they desperately need, they risk definitively
damaging themselves with the insane decision to have abortion. And then the
consequences of abortion will be terribly harmful to the mothers themselves and
to their families, to the point that many of those families will break up.
In the diocese all the associations must be mobilized in favor of life and against
abortion. I call upon the chaplains and the presidents of these various associations
to be very active and to make all their members keenly aware that abortion is a
Among the various diocesan associations we have two that are particularly
dedicated to Life. They are: Family Life Apostolate and Family Life International
(which by statutes is independent of the Diocese). I invite as many people as
possible to become members of these two associations and to take part
courageously in all their activities to proclaim the Gospel of life.
I especially call upon Doctors and Nurses. No human Law can oblige you to kill
an unborn baby. What is forbidden by God, cannot be permitted by man. You
have to appeal to conscientious objection, and the Government has the duty to
accept that, and to protect you from any form of discrimination. By Constitution
the Government is bound to respect the conscience of its citizens. The Church will
always be at your side. The Lord is to bless you as he approved and blessed
Shiphrah and Puah, the two midwives who disobeyed King Pharaoh when he
ordered them to kill all the baby boys of the Hebrews. I call also upon the
teachers: please do not let anybody force you to teach anything against life, or to
teach bad behavior to your schoolchildren. No textbook can oblige or justify
scandalizing children. Remember what the Lord said about those scandalizing the
little ones: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but
whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be
better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned
in the depth of the sea.” (Mt 18: 6)
C. By prayer. Without the help of prayer it is not possible to stop the devil and the
tragedy of abortion. By the help of the Liturgy and of the various devotions (like
the Rosary, Via Crucis, Divine Mercy etc) everybody is to understand that the
unborn is a human person, who deserves full protection, respect and love. By
liturgical or devotional prayers, we have to continuously remind all the Mothers
that they have to love their unborn child as Mary loved Jesus when he was still in
her womb and she was going to visit Elizabeth, or when she was in Nazareth
before going to Bethlehem for the census. We have to remind all the fathers too
that they have to protect and love their unborn child as St. Joseph did. Such an
attitude may be fostered only by prayer. No reason whatsoever is sufficient to
justify abortion. I am asking all the Parish Priests to celebrate Holy Mass at least
once a week for the protection of the unborn children, and every week the Holy
Rosary must be organized in the Parish for the same intention. Special emphasis
must be given every year to the feast of the Annunciation, which is the official
liturgical feast for life, and the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to
Juan Diego in Mexico on the 9th December 1531 as a childbearing mother,
teaching the Mexican people to respect human life.
In this very difficult moment I am asking everybody not to be ashamed of our faith and to
courageously proclaim the Gospel of Life everywhere: in our heart, in our family, in the
village, where we work, and especially in the schools and in the hospitals. We have to
continuously remind ourselves that the Lord said: “Let the children come to me, and do
not hinder them; for to them belongs the kingdom of heaven." (MT 19: 14)
The children are so dear to him, and whoever will help them to go to Jesus will receive an
everlasting reward. On the other hand, abortion will cause torment that will never end in
the lives of those who accept it, or perform it.
May our Lady of Guadalupe, the childbearing Virgin Mother, protect all the mothers and
fathers from the inhumane idea of killing their unborn children.
+ Cesare Bonivento PIME
Bishop of Vanimo
Feast of the Visitation of Mary to St. Elizabeth
1) Human life is most precious because it has been created in the image of God
2) No one can under any circumstance directly destroy an innocent human
3) The unborn child is a human being. Its life is sacred.
4) Human life is sacred even when it is the fruit of a sinful or of an unjust act.
5) The life of the unborn child is protected by the 5th Commandment, which
says: Do not kill.
6) Human life must be protected from the moment of conception.
7) The parents are called by God to take care of their unborn children from the
first moment of conception.
8) Civil society has the duty to protect life from conception, because the unborn
child is a person, like any other person already born.
9) The experience of other countries tells us that the consequences of legal
abortion will be very negative for our country.
10) The consequences of legal abortion have always been very negative especially
11) Abortion is not safe even if it is performed in the hospital.
12) All Christians must be active in repelling abortion.