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Blessing of same-sex union: Catholic teaching has not changed – Bishops

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The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria have said their stance on the recent pronouncement of Pope Francis on same-sex union does not in any way change the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage.

The President of CBCN, Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji and the Secretary, Bishop Donatus Ogun, made their position known in a statement.

The Bishops argued that the declaration by the Pope seeks to explain the various forms of blessing that can be administered to persons and objects in the Catholic Church, including the possibility of blessing individuals in unusual unions.

CBCN said 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 statement reads, “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 statement said.

Speaking further in the statement, the Bishops said the declaration upholds the Catholic Church’s old 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.

“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”.

 

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