Reject, Ignore Fiducia Supplicans “in its entirety”, “in totality”: Two Bishops in Africa

Two Catholic Bishops in Africa have, in separate occasions, called on the people of God under their pastoral care to reject, ignore, and forget Fiducia Supplicans, the declaration that the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith (DDF) released permitting the blessing of “same-sex couples” and couples in other “irregular situations”.

In the statement to “all Priests and Religious men and women” in Kenya’s Wote Diocese he issued on December 27, Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru says that the Vatican Declaration released on December 18 “should be rejected in totality and we faithfully uphold the Gospel teachings and Catholic traditional teachings on Marriage and sexuality”.

Earlier, on December 24, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese in Malawi called upon the people of God in his Episcopal See to “forget and ignore this controversial and apparently blasphemous declaration in its entirety.”

Bishop Mtumbuka, who was presiding over Christmas Vigil Mass at St. Anne’s Parish of Karonga Diocese shared what he termed his honest reflection on Fiducia Supplicans “even if by doing so, I’m reflecting publicly on a document signed by the Holy Father.”

“But, I have to, because it is important that you faithful of this Diocese, entrusted to my pastoral care by the same Holy Father are guided, are supported, and are strengthened at this moment,” he added.


The Malawian Catholic Bishop posed, “Was this letter written to please homosexuals and their promoters? We don’t know. Can the Church depart from its rightful path simply to please a certain people who live in immoral unions? If yes, why could this be done?”

“Do pastors do things like this in good faith? Or was this document written mainly to gain cheap popularity?” he further posed, adding, “It would seem in many parts of the world, certainly many people have celebrated this document as a sign of progress in the church, and the popularity of its drafters has certainly increased.”

Bishop Mtumbuka went on to highlight what he termed “our major concerns” with Fiducia Supplicans, saying it “looks to us like a heresy; it reads like a heresy; and its effects a heresy.”

He explained, “The document asks us to bless two people of same sex as individuals, but not as a couple. So, these two people of same sex who the previous night slept together like a couple, and present themselves to us as a couple are blessed as individuals, but they leave our presence as a couple; they go to their homes as a couple; they sleep in the same bed as a couple; but the document says they’re not blessed as a couple, although they appear to have been blessed like a couple. How could this be not changing the authentic teaching of the Church?”

“It’s very hard for me to give you, the faithful of this Diocese, why the Holy Father signed this document,” the Malawian Catholic Bishop said.

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He went on to share some of the speculations in reference to Pope Francis. “Some have said that his advisors did not want to stop him because they were afraid of him; but what would they be afraid of? What would they lose by defending the truth? Some have said that they wanted to please him so that he can please them. How, I don’t know,” Bishop Mtumbuka said.

He reiterated the stance of the members of the the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), who prohibited the implementation of Fiducia Supplicans in their December 19 statement.

“We in this Diocese … are not going to allow the recommended blessings of same sex unions in our Diocese,” he further said, and continued, “It’s very sad for me that for the first time in history of the church, a document released from the Holy See, signed by the Holy Father is rejected by his fellow Bishops and publicly rejected.”

He lamented, “It’s sad; the Catholic Church is old, as old as Christianity itself; this has never happened before. But we have no choice; we cannot allow such an offensive and apparently blasphemous declaration to be implemented in our Dioceses.”

In his homily, he reached out to the people of God under his pastoral care, saying, “I’d like to most sincerely apologize to all the many Catholics baptized, Catechumens, adults, youths, children, and all people of good will in our Diocese of Karonga, who look up to the Catholic Church in general, and the Holy Father in particular for moral and spiritual guidance.”


The Malawian Bishop said that his apology was justified by the fact that “from the reports I have received, it’s very clear that very many faithful in our Diocese and beyond have not only been offended by the said declaration, but very much scandalized to see the signature of the Holy Father appended to such a document.”

“I want to say sincerely that I’m very sorry for being deeply hurt and scandalized by this declaration,” he further said and questioning the timing of the Vatican Declaration added, “I have also been told that many of you are particularly shocked and saddened that such a controversial document could be released at Christmas time, a time of celebration and joy.”

He went on to pose, “Why was this declaration written? Unfortunately, it is very difficult to know exactly why this document was written.”

In his considered opinion, “It certainly cannot be said it was written for pastoral reasons because it must have been known and very clearly known to its drafters that such a document would not only offend but also scandalize many Catholics in some part of the world and especially here in Africa and also Asia.”

According to Bishop Mtumbuka, it is not possible to argue that “for the Holy Father offending or scandalizing the faithful is part of his pastoral care for the flock of Christ entrusted to him.”

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“I’m particularly hurt that the drafters knew that in some parts of the world like here in Karonga, in Malawi, in Africa we have believers, simple people, but with strong faith, but also simple faith, that they follow Christ honestly; some of them … walk for two days to attend Mass with me,” he says that, and adds, “How many Christians in New York, Rome, Frankfurt walk for two days to attend (Holy) Mass?”

“These are the simple people, I am together with my brother Priests, guiding towards their creator, and then they get offended by the very office that gave me this mandate, by the same office that they look up to so much for encouragement and support,” the Catholic Bishop, who has been at the helm of Karonga Diocese since he started his Episcopal Ministry in November 2010 lamented.

He expressed his awareness of the accusations against Catholic Church leaders who have voiced their rejection of the possibility of blessings “same sex couples” and others in irregular unions.

Some have said that “by sticking to rules of the Church or scripture and traditions of the church, we prevent currying out our responsibility as pastors effectively,” he said, adding, “Some have told us that we should be willing to explore new paths and new roads in governing the local churches such as blessing same sex unions; some have said that we should not be ideologically rigid in our faith and in our pastoral work, and in teaching our faith.”

“We are being told and encouraged to allow our doctrine of the faith to change alongside ideological changes taking place in the world, social and political changes taking place in the world, so that the faith might be modern, so that the church might be modern. In other words, we are told that in fulfilling our responsibility as successors of the Apostles, leading people to God, we should be fashionable,” Bishop Mtumbuka said in his December 24 homily.

He termed the accusations as unfortunate, and added, “Our response is clear: Please, keep your lies for yourself. You must judge for yourself, whether it is right in the sight of God, to listen to such advice, ill advice, and to obey you rather than God.”

“We, on our part, cannot stop telling the faithful entrusted to our pastoral care by God through the Holy Father, that they should follow and do what is rooted in scriptures and in tradition of the church,” he emphasized.

“All those who ill-advise us like this, our response is that we are not idiots. We know your ultimate goal, which I will not mention here; but we are not accepting this declaration,” he said.

Bishop Mtumbuka appealed to “our offended and scandalized faithful” not to “please leave the church as some of you have threatened to do because of being very offended and scandalized that the Holy Father signed this document.”

“To begin with, you were not baptized in the name of a Pope; you were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. Secondly, when you die, when you leave this world, you will not be judged by Pope Francis. You will not be judged by Bishop Martin. You’ll be judged by Jesus Christ, as we are going to proclaim, not far from now, when singing the Creed,” he said in his homily.

He continued, “Thirdly, know that it’s not me, it’s not Pope Francis, (who) was crucified on the cross for you. It’s Jesus. Follow him. To leave the church because of this mistake you will also be doing the work of the devil. The devil will be happy to destroy your faith because of things like this.”

“Remember dear faithful that the first Pope, namely Peter, seriously errored by denying Jesus three times; and one of the apostles of Jesus sold Him to His enemies. The denial of Peter, the first Pope, I want to tell you, that Popes can err, except when they are teaching officially, to define an article of faith, ex-Cathedra, namely, from their official chair,” Bishop Mtumbuka said.

He appealed for prayers for the Holy Family, “for unity in the Church, and to pray that the Holy Spirit, and not the work of darkness, will guide our Church. Pray for us your Bishops, pray for one another; it’s in times of difficulties that strong people emerge.”

“The cross I referred to was a big scandal to the first Christians; but some nevertheless remained steadfast,” he said, and implored, “May Mary who has given birth to our Savior intercede for you that you may remain strong in your faith.”

Meanwhile, in his statement calling for the rejection of Fiducia Supplicans “in totality”, the Bishop of Kenya’s Wote Diocese faults the Prefect of the DDF, Víctor Manuel Cardinal Fernández, for not Consulting “widely” before releasing the Declaration.

Cardinal Fernandez “should have widely done enough consultation before releasing such a controversial declaration. His idea and thought that Cardinals and Bishops cannot prohibit what Pope Francis has permitted with Fiducia Supplicans is mistaken,” Bishop Kariuki says.

He adds citing the Acts of the Apostles, “We Bishops, like Saints Peter and John, we will say ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight for us to obey you rather than God’".

“Since this declaration totally contradicts what Pope Francis himself approved in 2021 concerning same-sex unions … because the Church cannot ask God to bless sin, I hereby prohibit all priests in the Catholic Diocese of Wote from blessing of couples in irregular situation or same-sex couples,” the pioneer Catholic Bishop of the Kenyan Diocese say.

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.