A Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Jean-Miguel Auguste has commended the stand of Catholic Bishops in Africa on blessing same-sex couples, saying “Africa is the only continent that will save the world’’.
Auguste, a priest of Brooklyn diocese, who said this in his homily at St. Pius X Parish, New York, on Sunday praised the courage of the Catholic Church in Africa.
Pope Francis had on Dec. 18 formally approved letting Catholic priests bless same-sex couples, a radical shift in policy that aimed at making the church more inclusive while maintaining its strict ban on gay marriage.
The document from the Vatican’s doctrine office elaborated on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October.
In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessings could be offered under some circumstances, if the blessings weren’t confused with the ritual of marriage.
However, Catholic bishops in Africa had said they would not implement the new Vatican policy allowing blessing for same sex-couples.
“Africa is the only continent that will save the world.
“Today, all the bishops in Africa said to the Pope that they will not allow any priest to bless same-sex couples,’’ Auguste said.
The priest said Mary, the mother of God was betrothed to a man named Joseph, not same sex, according to the Gospel of Luke chapter one verses 26 to 38.
According to him, Mary did the will of God by allowing herself to be used to become the mother of Jesus Christ.
Speaking on his stand, Auguste said he would also not bless same-sex couples as a priest, noting such blessing it is a form of endorsement.
“I have an obligation to bless and pray for anybody without them revealing their identity, but blessing same-sex marriage should not be encouraged,’’ he said.
The priest, however, shared the experience of his nephew, a gay and how he turned down attending his wedding.
“I love him as my nephew, but I don’t accept his lifestyle. That lifestyle is contrary to my faith and the Bible.
“If you a gay, please respect my own space because I will not invade in your own space. I love you as a person, but I don’t accept that lifestyle.
“Don’t impose yourself on me and I will not impose myself on you. Respect my faith and I will respect your lifestyle,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s bishops said there had been various interpretations of the policy in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and home to 20-30 million Catholics.
They said that they needed to make clear that the Vatican document does not allow for a blessing and a formal acceptance of same-sex relationships.
Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in a statement on Thursday said that blessing same-sex marriage is against God’s law, teachings of the Church, the laws of the country and the cultural sensibilities of Nigerians.
The statement was signed by CBCN President and Secretary, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji and Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, respectively, and a few other executives.
The Bishops assured the ‘people of God’ that the teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage remained the same.
“There is, therefore, no possibility in the church of blessing same-sex unions and activities; that will go against God’s law, the teachings of the church, the laws of our nation and the cultural sensibilities of our people.
“We thank 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 will detract from the sacredness of this sacrament,” the CBCN stated.