By Melanie Nathan, February 01, 2024
Clearly threatened by a massive African anti-Catholic revolution, the Pope has now made Africa an exception to his call for allowing blessings for same-sex couples by Priests of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis says Africans are “special case” when it comes to LGBT blessings, noting he was confident that, except for Africans, critics of his decision to allow blessings for same-sex couples would eventually understand it.
“Those who protest vehemently belong to small ideological groups,” Francis told Italian newspaper La Stampa. “A special case are Africans: for them homosexuality is something ‘bad’ from a cultural point of view, they don’t tolerate it”.
“But in general, I trust that gradually everyone will be reassured by the spirit of the ‘Fiducia Supplicans’ declaration by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith: it aims to include, not divide,” the pope said.
Last week, Francis appeared to acknowledge the pushback the document received, especially in Africa, where bishops have effectively rejected it and where in some countries same-sex can lead to prison or even the death penalty.
In one example this is what i wrote last month after the Pope made his announcement and local Bishops in various countries, such as Nigeria, began to react:
Nigerian Catholic Bishops Reject Pope's Same-Sex Policy
By Melanie Nathan, Jan 01, 2024
In response to the recent landmark ruling by the Vatican allowing priests to bless same-sex couples under certain circumstances, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has affirmed that Catholic churches in the country will not bless same-sex unions.
This decision is based on their assertion that the blessing of same-sex unions contradicts God's law, the teachings of the church, and the laws of the country.
The Vatican's doctrinal office, approved by Pope Francis, clarified that such blessings do not legitimize irregular situations but rather serve as a sign that God welcomes all. The document emphasized a case-by-case approach, leaving the decision to priests.
The statement from the Nigerian Catholic Bishops underscores the divisions within the global Catholic community on issues related to same-sex unions. While the Vatican has taken steps towards inclusivity, regional interpretations and responses, such as those from the Nigerian bishops, continue to reflect diverse perspectives within the Catholic Church.
Melanie Nathan of AHRC: This also underscores the fact that the Pope has failed to address issues of decriminalization in so many countries where the Church operates and serves. Under Nigerian Law it is a crime for an organization or individual to provide such blessing under the current SSMPA, as follows "Administering, aiding, or abetting, or even merely witnessing a same sex marriage or civil union. Under the law: “A person or group of persons who administers, witnesses, abets or aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union . . . in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”
In addition to the older Penal Code, Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act was signed into law in Nigeria in 2014, further criminalizing of same-sex sexual relationships. As can be seen here is the extent of it - READ MORE HERE
In the interview with La Stampa, Pope Francis said he was not concerned about the risk of conservatives breaking away from the Catholic Church due to his reforms, saying that talk of a schism is always led by “small groups.” “We must leave them to it and move on … and look forward”, he said. However I believe the Pope has identified Africa as an exception because of the extensive nature of Africa's anti-homosexuality climate and the fact that most Africans (above 70%) consider homosexuality un-African. In truth such pro- same-sex-couple ruling by the Catholic Church, eeven though the Pope did not go far enough to agree to more than mere blessings, and not actual marriage, the Pope does fear a mass exodus from the Church should he not hav created such exception. The Pope is serving discrimination from within the Church by creating such exception. It does not help advance human rights by discriminating between the needs of same-sex couples in Africa from those in other parts of the world. It is tantamount to acknowledging the sentiment in Africa, thereby endorsing the ensuing criminalization and violent persecution, and the underlying myths as true. Though no doubt this is not an intended consequence by the Pope, it certainly reveals that he is willing to put the needs of the Catholic Church ahead of those who it purports to serve, to include LGBTQI+ people. Nonetheless this may well be the Pope's hope towards the evolution for rights for gays. I do not believe, however that it is helpful unless the Church decides to get more involved in actual change on the continent. Let us see if the Pope has the courage of his convictions.