Nigerian Catholic Bishops Defy Pope’s Same-Sex Blessing Decree

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have opposed Pope Francis’ stance on blessing same-sex marriages, which some perceive as an implicit endorsement of gay unions within the church.

Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), conveyed this position in a speech on Sunday, February 18th.

“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,” Ugorji said. “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,” he added.

He further stressed that: “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.”

Adding to the discussion, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, highlighted that the conference provided an opportunity for greater clarity and education on various church-related matters and doctrines. “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,” he said.

“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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