Nigerian Catholics reject Pope’s approval of same-sex marriage

Nigerian Catholics reject Pope’s approval of same-sex marriage

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have expressed disagreement with the position of Pope Francis on the blessing of same-sex couples.

The Pope’s stance could be translated as endorsement of same-sex marriage by the Church.

In a speech delivered by President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, at the formal opening of the 2024 First Plenary Assembly of the CBCN on Sunday, at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja, on Sunday, the bishops said statements or declarations from the Holy See should expectedly, foster unity and communion on matters of doctrine, morals and liturgy, but unfortunately, Fiducia Supplicans did otherwise, thus the declaration hurt the unity and catholicity of the Church.

“We must sincerely admit that the Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans (On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings), issued on 18th December, 2023, by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has added to our pains.”

“While the document prohibits liturgical blessings for same-sex couples, it recommends at the same time spontaneous pastoral blessings for couples in irregular situations including the blessing of same-sex couples.

“It further stressed that such pastoral blessings should not be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding.

“Given the ambiguities in the Declaration, the document quickly aroused mixed reactions of acceptance, sceptical reserve and outright rejection from Episcopal Conferences and individual Bishops across the world,” Ugorji said.

He noted that with the media hype that ambushed the text, its publication generated shock, outrage and disbelief among the faithful in Nigeria as elsewhere in Africa and other parts of the world, with many devout Catholics in the communities wondering how a Priest could bless same-sex couples who live permanently in a sinful union without causing confusion and scandal.

He said, “In the midst of this confusion and pushback, we must, as Pastors with the pastoral task of safeguarding the deposit of faith in its purity and integrity, uphold the teaching of the Church based on Holy Scripture and Tradition.

“We shouldn’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by renewing your minds, so we may discern what the Will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect. We must continue to teach our faithful that there is no possibility of blessing same-sex couples or same-sex unions in the Church in Africa.

“Homosexual acts are of grave depravity which are intrinsically disordered and, above all, contrary to natural law. In furtherance of our pastoral and prophetic mission, we must also continue to stress that God loves the sinner unconditionally and calls him to repentance so that he might live.”

Also speaking, the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, said that the theme of the CBCN Conference, “’ynod on Synodality: Focusing on Areas of Concern for the Church in Nigeria’, is an opportunity to get clearer information or education on several issues concerning the church and its doctrine.

“The Divine Physician does not only prescribe prayer, almsgiving and fasting. He also calls us to walk together in synodality which is part of the theme for the conference. Synodality has its roots in the early Christian community.

“But the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given it prominence in his bid to emphasize the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit, and to the voices of all segments of the faithful in decision making in the Church, where decisions are made collectively, and the community’s well-being takes precedence over individual interests; where dialogue is promoted, and active participation encouraged.

“No matter what some people might think, synodality is not about changing the traditional rudiments of Catholic faith and practice or legitimizing the ill effects of secularism. Synodality resonates with our African culture because we always do things together as a family and we consult the members of the family to take collective decisions, based on the African principle.

“We have a duty to listen to the rest of the universal church, just as our African culture, ethics and morality have much to offer to our universal family, the Church. The opposite of synodality is clericalism which Pope Francis calls a ‘scandal’.”

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