, 25 June, 2020 / 9:34 PM
Catholic Church leaders in Gabon have reacted to the decision by members of the National Assembly to decriminalize homosexuality saying the vote represents “a danger for our children and for homosexuals themselves.”
On Tuesday, June 23, members of the Central African nation’s National Assembly, the lower house, voted to adopt an amendment to criminal legislation removing the paragraph that prohibits “sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” it has been reported. The text had been introduced into a draft law in July 2019 by members of the Senate, the upper house.
It has been reported that during the June 23 session of the National Assembly, 48 legislatures voted in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality, 24 against and 25 abstained.
“This vote, in contradiction with the majority of Gabonese people, could not only lead fragile consciences to assume deviant behavior; it could also expose homosexuals to hostile reactions and discrimination,” the Catholic Bishops say in their collective statement issued Thursday, June 25.
They add, “Yes, in our country, the decriminalization of homosexuality is a danger for our children and for homosexuals themselves.”
For the bill to be passed into law, members of the upper house, the Senate, must adopt it in the same terms.
In their collective statement signed by Archbishop Jean-Patrick Iba-Ba, the Bishops say, “In the name of the wisdom of our ancestors, contained in our various cultures, which celebrate life, Love, and Family, we say NO to the decriminalization of homosexuality.”
“We, the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Gabon, cry out in pain as we note, once again, the fracture that is being created between the representatives of the people in decision-making bodies, the institutions of our country, and the entire Gabonese nation,” the members of the Episcopal Conference of Gabon bemoan.
“In the name of our Constitution, which proclaims attachment to our deep and traditional social values, to our cultural, material and spiritual heritage, in the name of the consideration we have for the family as the natural basic unit of society and marriage, the union between two persons of different sexes, its legitimate support, we say NO to the decriminalization of homosexuality,” the Catholic Bishops in Gabon reiterate.
As Pastors, they say, it is their “commitment to respect every person, whatever the orientation of his or her life. It is therefore not a question of demonizing anyone, nor of throwing stones, but of opening ourselves to the Truth.”
“At this point, the Bible enlightens us by affirming that homosexuality is not a human right but an alienation that seriously harms humanity because it is not based on any value proper to human beings,” the Bishops say and cite the book of Leviticus, “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
They also cite the book of Genesis saying, “The Bible declares that the human person is created male and female, male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). This difference is the basis of their relationship and complementarity and is fulfilled in marriage.”
“Rejecting homosexuality is a duty, a protection of the age-old values of our civilizations and not discrimination,” they clarify and add, “Whereas homosexuality falsifies anthropology and trivializes sexuality, marriage and the family are the foundation of society. And it is in the name of our Christian faith that We say NO to the decriminalization of homosexuality.”
They term as “regrettable” the fact that “some international organizations tend to condition their assistance on the acceptance of modes of behavior alien to our morals.”
As a way forward, the Bishops implore “decision-makers to rebel against these unhealthy methods by opting for the fight for freedom. Today, more than ever, we must get out of the patterns that make us slaves. The promised land of real democracy is at this price.”
“Sitting on its own advantages, sacrificing our authentic values, means denying ourselves and compromising future generations,” they note and continue, “The real challenge is to safeguard our cultural identity and to remain master and free of our destiny.”
The Prelates have also invited “the highest authorities of the Republic to take their responsibility, so that our institutions are reconciled with the Gabonese people and the values that are the crucible of our national heritage.”
They encourage all religious denominations to “fraternally organize prayers to implore the help of the Lord of the universe in these difficult times.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa