Following Pope’s Approval, African Catholic Bishops Decline Implementation of Vatican’s Proposed Same-Sex Blessings.
In response to the Vatican’s declaration permitting extra-liturgical blessings for same-sex couples termed as “irregular couples,” African Catholic bishops, under the leadership of SECAM (Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) president Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, announced their decision not to carry out these blessings.
The declaration, known as Fiducia supplicans and released on December 18, opened the door to blessing relationships considered “invalid” in the Catholic Church including unmarried, divorced-and-remarried, and same-sex couples.
Expressing concerns over potential “confusion” and the “risk of scandal,” Cardinal Ambongo who had previously met with Pope Francis to discuss the matter, conveyed the African bishops’ decision in a letter issued on Thursday, January 11.
The controversy surrounding the document heightened as it sparked varied reactions among Catholics, particularly in Africa.
In Zambia, Catholic bishops called for further reflection rather than immediate implementation, citing the country’s laws that explicitly prohibit same-sex unions and activities.
The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a clarification document issued on January 4, acknowledged concerns raised and emphasized that blessings should be approached cautiously, especially in regions where laws are punitive towards homosexuality.
The African church, in communion with the Pope, reiterated its commitment to providing pastoral assistance to all its members. Cardinal Ambongo, addressing the faithful underscored that despite the controversy Fiducia supplicans does not alter the Church’s doctrine on Christian marriage and sexuality, reaffirming that these core teachings remain unchanged.