Belgian Bishops Made “an error” in Same-sex Unions Liturgy: Nigerian Cardinal at Vatican

Francis Cardinal Arinze during the Holy Mass at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

Catholic Bishops in Belgium made “an error” in introducing the blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples, Vatican-based Nigerian Catholic Church leader, Francis Cardinal Arinze, has said.

On September 20 Catholic Bishops in Belgium announced the introduction of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples in the Western European country’s Dioceses. The Bishops of Flanders also published a liturgy for the celebration of homosexual unions for the Flemish-speaking parts of the bilingual country.

In a statement obtained by ACI Africa Monday, September 26, Cardinal Arinze says the path taken by the Catholic Bishops in Belgium is against the teachings of the Church, which says that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.

“Human beings have no power to change the order established by God the Creator,” Cardinal Arinze says in his statement dated September 24, and adds, “Even if the aim is to be pastorally helpful to homosexual couples, this is an error on the part of the bishops.”

The Nigerian-born Cardinal who served as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008 continues, “While persons with homosexual inclination are to be respected and not unjustly discriminated against, they, like every Christian and indeed every human being, are called to chastity.”


In his statement that Robert Moynihan circulated, Cardinal Arinze highlights the Church’s teaching on homosexuality as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), saying, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity”.

“By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection,” the Cardinal who is currently living in a Vatican apartment a few steps from St. Peter's Basilica says.

He makes reference to a recent statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Catholic Church’s doctrinal watchdog, which on 15 March 2021, indicated that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex relationships. 

In the CDF statement was issued with the approval of Pope Francis, it was clarified that blessings can be given “to individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching.”

“This is what the Flemish Bishops, and indeed all Bishops and priests, should be teaching,” Cardinal Arinze who will turn 90 in November having started his Episcopal Ministry in August 1965 says. 

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The Catholic Church leader who was named Cardinal in 1985 aged 52, making him one of the highest-ranking African Catholic Clerics at the time adds in reference to the Catholic Bishops in Belgium, “They should be blessing, not homosexual couples, but properly married unions of one man and one woman.”

“The Church is sent by Christ to all people ‘teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28:20). This includes calling people to repentance, sacrifice, chastity and perfection,” Cardinal Arinze who, according to some sources, was considered a potential successor to Pope John Paul II before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Pope Benedict XVI, says in his September 24 statement.  

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.