Catholic bishops in Nigeria under the aegis of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has clarified the approval granted by Pope Francis on the blessing of same sex couples.
The Catholic bishops in a statement signed by Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji and Bishop Donatus A. Ogun emphasized that the teachings of the Catholic Church remains the same as far as same sex marriage is concerned.
According to the CBCN, blessing same-sex unions and activities would go against God’s law, the teachings of the Church, the laws of the nation and the cultural sensibilities of the people.
The bishops in the statement reacting to the supposed approval granted by Pope Francis urged Catholic priests in Nigeria 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 the sacrament.
The statement reads: “Following the issuance of the Declaration on the Pastoral meaning of blessings, “Fiducia Supplicans” (pleading with courage) by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Fatih, we, the members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), recognise our duty as Pastors to clarify the content of the document, given the various nuances of interpretation that it has already been given.
“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. 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 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. The Declaration 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.
“Nevertheless, 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.
“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.
“The Declaration also 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. Asking for God’s blessing is not dependent on how good one is. Imperfection is the reason for seeking God’s grace.
“Therefore, those in irregular unions are invited never to lose hope but rather to ask for God’s grace and mercy while remaining open to conversion.
“In conclusion, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria assures the entire People of God that the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage remains the same.
“There is, therefore, no possibility in the Church of blessing same-sex unions and activities. That would go against God’s law, the teachings of the Church, the laws of our nation and the cultural sensibilities of our people.
“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”.