, 03 July, 2020 / 9:37 PM
Catholic Priests serving in the Central African nation of Gabon have, in a collective statement, reached out to the country’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba asking him to renounce the promulgation of the controversial bill that seeks to decriminalize homosexuality.
“We priests from the different dioceses of Gabon in accordance with our duty as citizens, Christians, and pastors of the people of God, and following the interventions of various religious leaders including our Bishops, have taken the initiative to send you this letter in this form in view of the burning and embarrassing events in our country concerning the decriminalization of homosexuality,” the members of the Association of Diocesan Priests in Gabon (ADPG) have said in their collective letter dated Thursday, July 2.
ADPG members “solemnly invite” the President “to listen to the voice of wisdom and renounce the promulgation of this controversial bill.”
Explaining why they resorted to writing the collective letter, the Clerics who represent the six Dioceses in Gabon say, “It is to consolidate unity, protecting our common values and limiting the ever-growing gap between our institutions and the People they should represent.”
According to a report, members of the Central African nation’s National Assembly, the lower house, voted on June 23 to adopt an amendment of the criminal legislation removing the paragraph that prohibits “sexual relations between persons of the same sex.” 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.
Members of the Senate also adopted the Bill on June 29.
“This decriminalization opens the way for the tacit recognition of homosexuality in Gabon,” the Clerics say and add, “Today it is the celebration of the love of people of the same sex and tomorrow paedophilia. Lovers of human blood will also be celebrated in our Republic. This is unacceptable”
They make reference to the story of creation in Genesis saying, “In the beginning, God created man and woman. This basic, natural differentiation is the only one capable of making life possible, because man is the fruit of the union between the opposite sexes.”
Terming the Bill as one that introduces “invasive, cheap, hedonistic cultures that can uproot our identity and not the best imports for our dear homeland,” the Clerics bemoan the Bill saying that “poses a serious problem of legitimacy” and “offends the collective conscience of our compatriots and exposes more the homosexuals who have always lived without concern in our cities.”
“There is no need to add an additional burden to our fellow citizens already burdened by misery, precariousness, unemployment, increasingly expensive living conditions, abandonment of the state and insecurity,” the Clerics in Gabon further decry.
“Churches in their variety do not in any way combat homosexuals,” they say and explain in reference to churches, “They consider that this sexual practice is not a voluntary choice of individuals but the result of unfortunate circumstances often linked to childhood wounds, the environment and external pressure from lobbies.”
The message from the Catholic Priests in Gabon comes weeks after the Catholic Bishops in the West African country condemned the controversial bill saying it represents “a danger for our children and for homosexuals themselves.”
In their June 25 collective statement, the Bishops also encouraged 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