Nairobi Archbishop Prohibits Blessing of Irregular Unions, Explains “concept of blessing”

Archbishop Philip Anyolo of Nairobi Archdiocese in Kenya. Credit: Nairobi Archdiocese

Members of the Clergy in the territory covered by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi in Kenya have been barred from implementing Fiducia Supplicans in the Metropolitan See, the Vatican declaration on the possibility of blessing “same-sex couples” and couples in other “irregular situations”. 

In a two-page eight-point statement dated Saturday, December 23, the Local Ordinary of Nairobi, Archbishop Philip Anyolo weighs in on the Document that the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith (DDF) released on December 18, and that has elicited mixed reactions and deep division among Catholic Bishops around the globe.

Since the release of Fiducia Supplicans, members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and the Laity of the Archdiocese of Nairobi have raised “many questions”, Archbishop Anyolo says, adding that he issues the statement “as your current shepherd and successor of the Apostle.”

“All Clergy residing and ministering in the Archdiocese of Nairobi are prohibited from blessing irregular relationships, unions, or same-sex couples,” the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop directs.

The directive, he says, is meant to “make sure the fundamental doctrinal positions affirmed in the (Vatican) Declaration, and the perennial teachings of the Church on marriage (are) upheld.”


He adds that “any form of blessing of same-sex unions and activities would go against God’s word, the teachings of the Church, the African cultural traditions, the laws of our nations, and would be scandalous to the faithful”

Hinting to the need for persons in same-sex unions and irregular relationships to a change of lifestyle and behavior, Archbishop Anyolo says that “the Gospel of Christ continues to call everyone to conversion of heart” and that the invitation to conversion “is an expression of God’s mercy to everyone.”

The directive prohibiting the implementation of Fiducia Supplicans in the Metropolitan See of Nairobi comes days after members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) expressed their support for the DDF Declaration.

In their December 20 statement, KCCB said that Fiducia Supplicans “does not in any way approve of ‘Same-sex Marriages’ nor try to give a back-door recognition of such a union. It does not seek an alternative ‘union blessing’ to substitute a Sacramental marriage.”

“This Document does not change in any way the understanding of Marriage as a Sacrament in the Church, an indissoluble union between a man and a woman, for life,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya said in their three-page statement that KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa Archdiocese, signed. 

More in Africa

Concept of blessing

In his December 23 statement, Archbishop Anyolo says that he understands the concept of “blessing” to mean “approval, permission, or even a commission for a certain type of action and mission.”

Imparting blessings upon a same-sex couple and couples in “irregular situations of marriage” is therefore understood as “permission to sin” and a way of “normalizing” the lifestyle of practicing homosexuality, he says.

Like the assertion in paragraph nine of Fiducia Supplicans that “from a strictly liturgical point of view, a blessing requires that what is blessed be conformed to God’s will”, the Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi says that “even blessing outside of the liturgical rite requires (that) whatever is blessed (conforms) to God’s will”.

In his considered view, “The notion of blessing same-sex couples, or irregular unions, can be perceived as legalizing these relationships, which the Church has no authority to do in faithfulness to the Gospel and the institution of marriage.”


“In the light of God’s mercy, the Church imparts her blessing to individual persons struggling with sin and strive to do the will of God, determined to conform their lives to Church’s teaching. This is done primarily in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation,” Archbishop Anyolo says, and adds, “Such blessings are not only allowed but strongly encouraged.”

The sense in Fiducia Supplicans

The 67-year-old Catholic Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in February 1996 as Bishop of Kenya’s Kericho Diocese highlights aspects of Fiducia Supplicans that he agrees with.

Fiducia Supplicans, he says, “states and correctly affirms the traditional Catholic doctrine on marriage and family, including the disapproval of the Catholic Church on homosexual unions.”

The DDF Declarations, he continues, “confirms and reiterates the perennial teaching of the Church that marriage is to be affirmed as ‘an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union of a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children’” as well as the fact that the “Church does not have the power to impart blessings on unions of persons of the same sex.”

(Story continues below)

Basis of Church teaching on marriage

Archbishop Anyolo underscores the fact that the teaching of the Church on marriage is based on Scripture, Tradition, as well as “on natural law written into the hearts of every human being”.

He says, “The pastoral practices of the Church regarding marriage and family are always based on the Gospel of Christ … and the enduring practices of the Church rooted in the Apostolic Tradition. It is for this reason that the Church excludes those living in irregular situations of marriage from full sacramental participation in the life of the Church, as they are invited to remedy their objectively sinful situation and are accompanied with pastoral care.”

“Homosexual unions are against reason, against nature and against African cultural tradition. The word of God also strongly condemns such unions,” the Kenyan Catholic Church leader, who has been at the helm of Nairobi Archdiocese since November 2021 emphasizes, citing the letters of St. Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, and Timothy.

African cultural traditions, Archbishop Anyolo notes, “equally detest” homosexuality “as it is clearly against transmission of life”

“May the Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds and hearts in embracing the truth of the Gospel of Christ through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Lord and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit,” he concludes.

Continental consultations

The leadership of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has initiated consultations across the continent in view of issuing a “single synodal pronouncement” on Fiducia Supplicans.

“As shepherds of the Church in Africa, it is incumbent upon us to provide unequivocal clarity on this matter, offering definitive guidance to our Christian community,” the President of SECAM, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, has said in a December 20 statement addressed to Presidents of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and its Islands.

A pastoral declaration from SECAM, Cardinal Ambongo has said, would “provide comprehensive guidelines for all local Churches within our continent.”

The Congolese member of Friars Minor Capuchin (O.F.M Cap) has given the Presidents of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences up to “the start of the second half of January” to submit their perspectives to the General Secretariat of the Accra-Ghana-based Symposium.

“Your timely response will be instrumental in shaping this important directive,” The President of SECAM since February has told Catholic Bishops at the helm of Conferences across Africa and its Islands.

Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla is ACI Africa’s founding Editor-in-Chief. He was formed in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), and later incardinated in Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. He has a PhD in Media Studies from Daystar University in Kenya, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Marist College, New York, USA.