“No possibility of blessing same-sex unions, activities”: Catholic Bishops in Nigeria

Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja

Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican declaration on the possibility of blessing “same-sex couples” and couples in other “irregular situations”, which the Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith (DDF) released on Monday, December 18, does not permit the blessing of “same-sex unions and activities”, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have said.

In a one-page statement shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, December 20, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) say, “There is no possibility in the Church of blessing same-sex unions and activities.”

Permitting such blessing, CBCN members emphasize, “would go against God's law, the teachings of the Church, the laws of our nation and the cultural sensibilities of our people.”

The clarification by the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria is part of the conclusion of their six-point statement, in which they weigh in on Fiducia Supplicans.

“The CBCN thanks all the Priests for their accompaniment of married couples, asking them to continue in all they do to sustain the sacrament of holy matrimony and never to do anything that would detract from the sacredness of this sacrament,” the Catholic Church leaders say at the end of their one-page statement. 


In preceding remarks, CBCN members highlight what they consider the salient aspects of Fiducia Supplicans. 

“The Declaration seeks to clarify the different forms of blessing that can be given to persons and objects in the Catholic Church, including the possibility of blessing persons in irregular unions,” they say, adding, “Such unions include but are not limited to divorced and remarried couples whose previous marriages had not been annulled, those living in same-sex unions, those in polygamous unions, in concubinage, etc.”

The Catholic Church leaders in Africa’s most populous nation continue, “The Declaration acknowledges and carefully distinguishes between ritual, liturgical, and informal blessings. While ritual or liturgical blessings are imparted according to the established norms of the Church, informal blessings refer to prayers over people who ask for them outside the liturgy or any formal celebration in the Church.”

Fiducia Supplicans, CBCN members say, “offers a consideration of the possibility of extending the informal blessing to all God's children, irrespective of their moral condition, when they ask to be blessed.”

“The Declaration insists that the blessing of persons in irregular unions - and never the union itself – can only take a non-liturgical form to avoid confusion. It should not be imparted during or in connection with a civil wedding ceremony or with clothing, words, and signs associated with a wedding,” they say.

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They add, “The Declaration reiterates the Catholic Church's perennial teaching on marriage as an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union of a man and woman, naturally open to the generation of children and emphatically states that the Church does not have the power to impart a blessing on irregular unions.”

CBCN members assure the “entire People of God that the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage remains the same.”

The Vatican declaration “reinforces the truth about God's mercy. For one to willingly ask for a blessing demonstrates one's trust in God and the desire to live according to God's commandments,” they explain, and add, “Asking for God's blessing is not dependent on how good one is. Imperfection is the reason for seeking God's grace.”

The Catholic Bishops in Nigeria invite those in irregular unions to “never lose hope but rather to ask for God's grace and mercy while remaining open to conversion.”

In Malawi and in Zambia, Catholic Bishops have prohibited the implementation of Fiducia Supplicans.


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