Home World African Catholic priests tell Pope Francis they refuse to bless same-sex couples

African Catholic priests tell Pope Francis they refuse to bless same-sex couples

African Catholic priests tell Pope Francis they refuse to bless same-sex couples

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African Catholic priests, and those from Madagascar, rebuked Pope Francis’ approval of same-sex couples being blessed by the Catholic Church on Thursday, saying they refuse to follow the pontiff’s declaration because such unions are “contrary to the will of God.”

Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo signed the statement on behalf of the symposium of African national bishops conferences, taking a nearly continental-sized stance against Francis’ declaration made on Dec. 18, which allowed priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples.

The change in the Vatican policy was released in mid-December and said, “people seeking God’s love and mercy shouldn’t be subject to ‘an exhaustive moral analysis’ to receive it.”

Francis sent the letter to two conservative cardinals in October, suggesting such blessings could be offered under some circumstances if those receiving the blessing did not confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage.

POPE FRANCIS ALLOWS PRIESTS TO BLESS SAME-SEX COUPLES

Francis and Besungu

Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo receives a red three-cornered biretta from Pope Francis during a consistory inside St. Peter’s Basilica in 2019. The Catholic hierarchy of Africa and Madagascar issued a unified statement Thursday refusing to offer blessings to same-sex couples and reaffirming that such unions are “contrary to the will of God.”  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini/File)

The declarations sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church, expanding a gap between Francis’ progressive leadership and the conservative church in much of the world, including Africa, where the number of Catholic Church members is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, the Associated Press reported.

While the Vatican restated that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman, the declaration allowed priests to offer their blessings to same-sex couples seeking God’s grace in their lives as long as the blessings are not confused with the rites and sacrament of marriage.

Ambongo said in his statement that it was not appropriate for African priests to offer same-sex couples blessings because of the confusion and scandal it could create.

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cardinal fridolin among besungu

Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo signed a statement Thursday informing Pope Francis that the Africa and Madagascar Catholic Church will refuse to offer blessings to same-sex couples.  (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini/File)

Ambongo also asserted that LGBTQ+ unions are “seen as contradictory to cultural norms and intrinsically corrupt,” according to biblical teachings condemning homosexuality as an abomination.

“Within the church family of God in Africa, this declaration has caused a shockwave, it has sown misconceptions and unrest in the minds of many lay faithful, consecrated persons and even pastors, and has aroused strong reactions,” Ambongo wrote.

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Pope Francis attends audience

Pope Francis (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini/File)

He stressed that the bishops in Africa are in communion with the pontiff, but noted the blessings could not be given because “in our context, this would cause confusion and would be in direct contradiction to the cultural ethos of African communities.”

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The president of the east African nation Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye, said a few weeks ago that same-sex couples in Burundi should “be taken to a stadium to be pelted with stones, once discovered.” Then on Dec. 29, he spoke on a radio broadcast and asked those who practice homosexuality and live abroad to “not return home.”

Fox News Digital’s Pilar Arias and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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