ABUJA, Nigeria, March 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The president of the Nigerian Catholic Bishops’ Conference has made a strong defense of the bishops’ support for a bill banning same-sex “marriage” against critics who allege the bishops’ position is out of touch with Pope Francis.
“It is a mischievous and faulty generalization to reason that because we resist same-sex ‘marriage’ we differ from our Pope who said, ‘If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?’” Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos said in his opening remarks at the bishops’ recent plenary meeting.
“The position of the Catholic Church in Nigeria in respect of same sex union and other moral vices is in consonance with that of the universal Church and in conformity with the social teachings of the Church,” Archbishop Kaigama said according to Catholic News Service of Nigeria.
“Our compassion for the weak, the marginalized and those who suffer discrimination is unwavering and uncompromising. We minister to all,” he said, stressing that, “Nigerian Catholics do not hate men and women who are of biologically gay orientation, but strongly affirm that gay unions or ‘marriages’ are simply not in conformity with our Christian theology or traditional Nigerian morality.”
Archbishop Kaigama said his explanation became necessary following attacks from some quarters after the bishops commended President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law in January.
The law imposes a 14-year prison sentence on anyone who enters a “same-sex marriage contract or civil union” or aids and abets such an action. It also bans public displays of affection between homosexuals, along with gay clubs and organizations.
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In a letter to Jonathan, the bishops had praised the government’s decision “not to bow to international pressure in the promotion of unethical and immoral practices of same sex union and other related vices.”
They called the government’s stand “a courageous one and a clear indication of the ability of our great country to stand shoulders high in the protection of our Nigerian and African most valued cultures of the institution of marriage and protection of the dignity of the human person.”
In his remarks at the bishops’ plenary, Archbishop Kaigama said they sent the letter “to uphold the age-long biblical and traditional morality of our people that marriage has always been a union between a man and a woman.”
“Same-sex unions or so-called ‘marriages’ are alien to us and we resist the idea but we will always extend compassion of Christ to men and women with biological orientation that is gay or lesbian and defend their rights just as we have constantly defended the rights of all persons discriminated against,” the archbishop told the plenary meeting, which was attended by President Jonathan, the Nigerian Papal Nuncio Most Rev. Augustine Kasujja, and John Cardinal Onaiyekan, as well as over 50 members of the conference and many other invited dignitaries.
The archbishop said further, “We stand for the promotion and protection of human rights which are consistent with our religious and cultural values. Legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’ will open the flood gates to so many moral issues that can seriously compromise our African culture and becloud our evangelization efforts in Nigeria.”
Although the theme of the bishops' plenary conference was “Church and State Partnership in Providing Quality Education for the Nigerian People,” the archbishop urged those promoting homosexuality in his country to focus instead on much more serious problems in Nigeria.
Archbishop Kaigama called on “individuals, pressure groups and governments from abroad who are very anxious to fight for the rights of gays in Nigeria” to “first help us deal with the menacing activities of terrorists who claim that it is their right to kill and destroy, and have caused so many deaths of innocent Nigerians.”