JANUARY 13, 2024
The Roman Catholic bishops of Africa and Madagascar on Thursday issued a statement refusing to follow Pope Francis’ declaration permitting priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples.
Signed by Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo on behalf of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, or SECAM, the statement said such unions were “contrary to the will of God.”
The move comes after Francis on December 18 approved a declaration allowing priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples, which was welcomed by LGBTQ Catholics.
In the declaration, the Vatican reaffirmed the traditional Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman but said priests could offer non-liturgical blessings to same-sex couples, as long as those blessings weren’t confused with a wedding.
African Catholic bishops said the Vatican’s declaration contradicted “the cultural ethos of African communities.” Homosexuality remains illegal in many African countries.
“The Church’s doctrine on Christian marriage and sexuality remains unchanged,” SECAM said in a statement from Accra, Ghana’s capital.
“For this reason, we, the African Bishops, do not consider it appropriate for Africa to bless homosexual unions or same-sex couples,” the statement added.
The pushback underscores a gap between the pope’s progressive, reform-oriented leadership and conservatives in much of the Catholic community.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.