Catholic bishops in Lagos State have taken a stance against granting blessings for same-sex unions and maintaining that they’re sticking to the biblical teachings on marriage.
The development was made known in a communique released on Thursday and signed by the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale MartinsMost Rev. Francis Adesina, after the Catholic Bishops of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province comprising of Lagos Archdiocese, Ijebu Ode and Abeokuta Dioceses gathered for their first plenary meeting for the year 2024 on Thursday, January 25 at St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland Lagos.
Punch Metro reported in December 2023 that the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision to formally permit Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples while maintaining its strict ban on gay marriage in its attempt to make the church more inclusive.
“For, those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection,” it said.
“There is no intention to legitimize anything, but rather to open one’s life to God, to ask for his help to live better, and also to invoke the Holy Spirit so that the values of the Gospel may be lived with greater faithfulness,” the statement read partly, in contrast to a 2021 ruling from the Vatican doctrine office which barred any blessings, saying God “cannot bless sin.”
However, on January 29, 2024, the Pope admitted that Africans are ‘a special case’ after the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, an association of African Catholic bishops rejected and labelled the pope’s decision to approve blessings for gay couples as inappropriate.
SECAM President, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo in a January 11 letter said, “We, the African bishops, do not consider it appropriate for Africa to bless homosexual unions or same-sex couples because, in our context, this would cause confusion and would be in direct contradiction to the cultural ethos of African communities.”
Reacting, Francis told Italian newspaper La Stampa, “Those who protest vehemently belong to small ideological groups. A separate case are Africans: for them, homosexuality is something ‘ugly’ from a cultural point of view. They do not tolerate it.
“But in general, I trust that gradually everyone will reassure themselves on the spirit of the ‘Fiducia supplicans’ statement of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith: it wants to include, not divide. He invites people to welcome and then entrust people, and entrust themselves, to God.”
With the dust raised by Francis’ decision yet to settle in Africa, a continent where swathes of nations vehemently prohibit homosexuality, the Lagos bishops, in support of SECAM and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria
“We express our total agreement with the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, and that of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) concerning the blessing of homosexual unions or same-sex couples. We affirm that the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage as the union of a man and a woman in a stable and exclusive relationship, open to bearing children, remains the same. We also affirm the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and urge the faithful to be guided by it,” the Lagos bishops said.