Featured Image

ACCRA, Ghana (LifeSiteNews) — The president of the episcopal conferences of Africa and Madagascar has declared that the Catholic bishops in the continent will not be implementing Fiducia Supplicans’ blessing of same-sex “couples” after striking an “agreement” with Pope Francis, saying to do so would contradict African culture which is “deeply rooted in the values of the natural law regarding  marriage and family.”

In a letter dated and issued January 11, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo presented the continental response to CDF prefect Cardinal Victor Fernández’s December 18 text proposing blessings for same-sex couples.

While noting how the amassed episcopal conferences of Africa had “strongly reaffirmed their Communion” with Pope Francis, Ambongo stated that the bishops remained united in their position opposing same-sex blessings. 

Such blessings could not take place without causing “scandals,” and since the Church’s teaching “on marriage and sexuality remains unchanged,” the letter declared that:

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.

Offering blessings to those in same-sex relationships would make it “very difficult to be convincing that people of the same sex who live in a stable union do not claim the legitimacy of their own status.”

Instead, the bishops stated they “insist on the call for the conversion of all.” 

This position Ambongo rooted firmly in Scripture once more, drawing from the Gospels to re-iterate Christ’s command to “go and sin no more” and adding: 

As the salt of the earth and light of the world, the merciful mission of the church is to go against the tide of the spirit of the world, and to offer it the best, even if it is demanding. 

Ambongo, who is president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and Archbishop of Kinshasa, highlighted especially that numerous responses from individual bishops and conferences had noted the Scriptural condemnation of homosexual activity. 

Drawing also on the Vatican’s 1975 document Persona Humana, Ambongo wrote that “the constant teaching of the Church describes homosexual acts as ‘intrinsically disordered.’” 

Furthermore, Ambongo – who serves as one of the Pope’s close advisors in the “C9” council of cardinals – recalled that African culture is “deeply rooted in the values of the natural law regarding  marriage and family,” and as such same-sex unions “are seen as contrary to cultural norms and intrinsically corrupt.” 

Somewhat surprisingly, Ambongo stated that this widespread rejection of the Vatican’s document had in fact “received the agreement” of Pope Francis and Fiducia Supplicans’ author Cardinal Fernández. This point he further expounded in the closing lines of his letter, drawing from one of Pope Francis’ key themes to state how:

His Holiness Pope Francis, fiercely opposed to any form of cultural colonization in Africa, blesses the African people with al his heart, and encourages them to remain faithful, as always, to the defense of Christian values.

READ: Africa’s leading cardinal wants continental response to Vatican’s same-sex blessings text

Ambongo’s letter is the result of a call he issued to the African bishops in the immediate aftermath of the publication of Fiducia Supplicans. At the time, he noted how “the ambiguity of this declaration, which lends itself to many interpretations and manipulations, is causing much perplexity among the faithful, and I believe that, as pastors of the Church in Africa, we need to speak out clearly on this issue in order to give clear guidance to our Christians.”

He requested the continents’ bishops to send him their responses by mid-January, evidencing a promptness which likely took the notoriously bureaucratic Vatican by surprise.

READ: FULL LIST – Where do bishops stand on blessings for homosexual couples?

Various bishops in Africa, notably those of Cameroon, had at the time of his letter already issued firm rejections of Fiducia Supplicans. The Cameroon bishops had expanded on this condemnation of same-sex blessings to add that “homosexuality falsifies and corrupts human anthropology and trivializes sexuality, marriage and the family, the foundations of society. In fact homosexuality sets humanity against itself and destroys it.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2357 teaches that: “‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Indeed, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1986, the CDF issued a document instructing bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons. The CDF admonished bishops to ensure they, and any “pastoral program” in the diocese, are “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.”