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Nigerian Catholic Bishops Express Disagreement with Pope’s Position on Same-Sex Marriage

Nigerian Catholic Bishops Express Disagreement with Pope's Position on Same-Sex Marriage

Catholic bishops in Nigeria have voiced their disagreement with Pope Francis regarding his position on the blessing of same-sex couples, stating that it could be interpreted as endorsing same-sex marriage.

Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji expressed these concerns during the formal opening of the 2024 First Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in Abuja.

According to Ugorji, statements or declarations from the Holy See are expected to foster unity and communion on matters of doctrine, morals, and liturgy. However, he noted that the recent declaration, Fiducia Supplicans, issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 18, 2023, has caused distress and hurt the unity and catholicity of the Church.

While the document prohibits liturgical blessings for same-sex couples, Ugorji highlighted that it simultaneously recommends pastoral blessings for couples in irregular situations, including same-sex couples. He emphasized that such pastoral blessings should not be performed in conjunction with civil union ceremonies and should not resemble wedding rituals in any way.

The publication of the declaration sparked varied reactions of acceptance, skepticism, and outright rejection from Episcopal Conferences and individual Bishops worldwide due to its ambiguities, according to Ugorji.

The Nigerian faithful, along with others in Africa and around the world, expressed shock, outrage, and disbelief at the text’s media coverage. Many devout Catholics questioned how a priest could bless same-sex couples living in a sinful union without causing confusion and scandal.

Amidst this confusion and pushback, Ugorji emphasized the bishops’ role as pastors entrusted with safeguarding the integrity and purity of the faith. They are committed to upholding the teachings of the Church based on Holy Scripture and Tradition.

He reiterated that it is necessary to teach the faithful that same-sex couples or unions cannot be blessed within the Church in Africa. Homosexual acts are considered gravely depraved, intrinsically disordered, and contrary to natural law. While emphasizing God’s unconditional love for sinners, Ugorji stressed the importance of calling them to repentance for a life in accordance with God’s will.

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