VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Cameroon Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bemenda, one of the bishops on the ordinary council overseeing the process for the Synod on Synodality, said the African bishops who took part in the synod last month in Rome insisted strongly on the Church’s teaching on marriage as “a union between a man and a woman.” The archbishop decried anything that departs from that teaching as “witchcraft.”
In an interview with the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin, Fuanya said the African bishops strove to hold the line on Catholic sexual morality during the Synod debates.
“Another contribution that Africa brought up within this synod was our view on the teaching of the Church, on the human person, and human sexuality,” he told Pentin. “In Africa, we understand marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and anything short of that is witchcraft. This is something we said very strongly. We cannot be talking about sensitivities and orientations within the Church setting when this is what the Gospel says. This is what the teaching of the Church has said all along and this is what various cultures believe.”
Fuanya said he thought the bishops from Africa were taken seriously by other Synod participants in their defense of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality and that they were able to moderate that part of the Synod proceedings to some extent.
“We were taken on board very seriously — very, very seriously,” he said. “I’m very, very happy, especially with this aspect of the Church’s teaching on the human person and sexuality. It was a big concern for Africa. The fact that we moderated it and took out certain words that were very political, I think we are happy with that.”
The archbishop affirmed that any “dialogue” with those who do not keep the Commandments regarding sexual morality must always be conducted with a view to their conversion from sin.
“Whether we’re talking to ‘LGBT’ people or we’re talking to polygamists or we’re talking about ourselves, there must always be the call to conversion, conversion to the Gospel,” he said. “What are the Gospel values? Entering into dialogue with all of these people is always in view of conversion. If we take that out, then we stop being evangelical. We are no longer backed by the Gospel.”
The archbishop’s comments come on the heels of the synod’s discussions on sexual morality, with prominent leaders of the synod opening and strongly advocating for overhauling the Church’s teaching surrounding marriage. Among other dissident voices, pro-LGBT Sr. Jeannine Gramick said she thought that “in the long run… Pope Francis is laying the groundwork for change in sexuality.”
In an apparent attack on Catholic teaching, the final report of the synod states about LGBT issues that “Sometimes existing anthropological categories are not sufficient to grasp the complexity of what emerges from experience or from science, and therefore this calls for further investigation,” adding that, “we not fall into simplistic judgments that hurt people or damage the body of the Church.”
Fuanya nevertheless defended the Synod as a “good synod” and endorsed the event’s controversial method of “conversation in the spirit.”
Following the conclusion of the synod, German Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer instructed the priests of his diocese to go ahead and “bless” same-sex “couples” without fear of any sanction, citing Pope Francis and the German Synodal Way. He expressed the hope that the practice would enter the wider Church through the Synod on Synodality.
During the course of the synod, Kenyan Bishop Hieronymus Joya condemned sodomy and the attempts within the Church to render it acceptable, saying, “It is something incomprehensible that you and I were born in a family and some people with perverse ideologies want us to do and live contrary to what God gifted us, which is the sacredness of life through our parents and which is the source of all vocations in our religious and secular society.”
These sentiments, made in response to Pope Francis’ suggestion that priests may decide to “bless” homosexual unions, were echoed by Fuanya. However, not all bishops from Africa appeared to hold strong on the Church’s teachings on marriage. Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, claimed that the results of the synod will categorically be “welcomed by everyone as the will of God,” even if this involves approving “blessings” of same-sex unions, in contradiction to the Church’s perennial teaching on the grave sinfulness of homosexual acts.
While it appears this year’s synod did not directly attempt to change the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, nonetheless, synod member Cardinal Leonardo Steiner attested that Pope Francis has specifically tasked the 2024 session of the synod with looking at LGBT issues.