African Bishops Reject Same-Sex Marriage: Upholding Tradition in a Shifting Landscape

Catholic bishops in Africa had said they would not implement the new Vatican policy allowing blessing for same-sex couples.

A Catholic priest, Reverend Father Jean-Miguel Auguste, has commended the stand of Catholic bishops in Africa on blessing same-sex couples, saying “Africa is the only continent that will save the world’’.

Mr. Auguste, a priest of the Brooklyn diocese, who said this in his homily at St. Pius X Parish, New York, on Sunday, praised the courage of the Catholic Church in Africa.

On December 18, Pope Francis formally approved letting Catholic priests bless same-sex couples, a radical shift in policy that aimed at making the church more inclusive while maintaining its strict ban on gay marriage.

The document from the Vatican’s doctrine office elaborated on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October.

REEAD ALSO: Blessing same-sex marriage against God’s law – Nigerian Catholic Bishops blows hot

In the midst of this global conversation, the bishops of the Catholic Church in Africa emerged with a resolute and unwavering stand against the blessing of same-sex marriages. This position is reflective of the deep-rooted conservative values that have historically characterized the African continent. While the global church navigates a path towards greater inclusivity, the African bishops underscore the importance of preserving traditional teachings.

Reverend Father Jean-Miguel Auguste, a priest of the Brooklyn diocese, took to the pulpit at St. Pius X Parish in New York to commend the courageous stand of the African Catholic Church. In his homily on a Sunday service, Father Auguste expressed admiration for the resilience of the Church in Africa, going as far as to say, “Africa is the only continent that will save the world.” His words reflect a sentiment of appreciation for the African bishops’ commitment to upholding doctrinal principles amidst a changing global landscape.

The divergence in perspectives between the Vatican’s progressive move and the conservative stance of the African bishops highlights the complex interplay between tradition and modernity within the Catholic Church. While the Vatican aims to adapt to evolving societal norms, the African bishops emphasize the importance of preserving the moral fabric that has defined their communities for centuries.

Father Auguste’s proclamation that “Africa is the only continent that will save the world” suggests a belief in the continent’s role as a stronghold of traditional values. This sentiment resonates with the idea that Africa, with its deep-rooted cultural and religious convictions, can serve as a beacon of stability and continuity in a world undergoing rapid change.

In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessings could be offered under some circumstances if the blessings were not confused with the ritual of marriage.

However, Catholic bishops in Africa had said they would not implement the new Vatican policy allowing blessings for same-sex couples.

“Africa is the only continent that will save the world.

“Today, all the bishops in Africa said to the Pope that they will not allow any priest to bless same-sex couples,’’ Mr. Auguste said.

The priest said Mary, the mother of God, was betrothed to a man named Joseph, not of the same sex, according to the Gospel of Luke, chapters 26–38.

According to him, Mary did the will of God by allowing herself to be used to become the mother of Jesus Christ.

Speaking on his stand, Mr. Auguste said he would also not bless same-sex couples as a priest, noting that such a blessing is a form of endorsement.

“I have an obligation to bless and pray for anybody without them revealing their identity, but blessing same-sex marriage should not be encouraged,’’ he said.

The priest, however, shared the experience of his nephew, a gay man, and how he turned down attending his wedding.

“I love him as my nephew, but I don’t accept his lifestyle. That lifestyle is contrary to my faith and the Bible.

“If you are gay, please respect my space because I will not invade yours. I love you as a person, but I don’t accept that lifestyle.

“Don’t impose yourself on me, and I will not impose myself on you. Respect my faith, and I will respect your lifestyle,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s bishops said there had been various interpretations of the policy in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and home to 20–30 million Catholics.

They said that they needed to make it clear that the Vatican document does not allow for a blessing or a formal acceptance of same-sex relationships.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said in a statement on Thursday that blessing same-sex marriage is against God’s law, the teachings of the Church, the laws of the country, and the cultural sensibilities of Nigerians.

The statement was signed by CBCN President and Secretary, Most Reverend Lucius Ugorji and Most Reverend Donatus Ogun, respectively, and a few other executives.

The bishops assured the ‘people of God’ that the teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage remained the same.

“There is, therefore, no possibility in the church of blessing same-sex unions and activities; that will go against God’s law, the teachings of the church, the laws of our nation, and the cultural sensibilities of our people.

“We thank all the priests for their accompaniment of married couples, asking them to continue in all they do to sustain the sacrament of holy matrimony and never to do anything that will detract from the sacredness of this sacrament,” the CBCN stated.

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