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Nigeria Catholic Bishops dare Vatican, oppose blessing of same-sex couples

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Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria have opposed Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the church, saying they will never bless same-sex couple.

The Pope, in December 2023, validated the blessing of same-sex couples by Catholic priests.

His declaration triggered rife debates across the globe, with many adjudging that the approval could be translated as the church’s endorsement of same-sex marriage.

The bishops, speaking through their President, Lucius Ugorji, at the formal opening of the 2024 First Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on Sunday, said the Pope’s stance was not biblical and has hurt the unity of the Catholic Church.

Ugorji

“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.

“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.

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“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,” he maintained.

Ugorji added, “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, Ignatius Kaigama, said the theme of the CBCN Conference, “Synod 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 emphasise 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,” Mr Kaigama said.

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The archbishop said the synod was not about changing the traditional rudiments of the Catholic faith and practice, but that their position resonates with African culture which is against same-sex relationships.

“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,’” Mr Kaigama added.

Same-sex relationship is illegal in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s anti-gay law, enacted in January 2014 stipulates a 14-year prison term for anyone convicted of having sex with members of the same sex.


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