A month after granting priests the authority to bless same sex couples, Pope Francis appears to have abandoned hope in persuading African bishops to extend similar blessings.
Pope Francis in a recent interview with an Italian newspaper, termed Africans as a ‘special case’ in their prevailing opposition to homosexuality.
He noted that individuals opposing the blessing of same sex couples qualify as small ideological groups.
Despite the opposition, the Vatican leader expressed optimism that those critical of his decision to sanction blessings for same-sex couples, would eventually come to understand his stance as outlined in the contentious Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust) document issued last month.
The Pope’s directive sparked intense debate within the Catholic Church, with African bishops voicing strong resistance.
“Those who protest vehemently belong to small ideological groups. A special case are Africans: for them homosexuality is something ‘bad’ from a cultural point of view, they don’t tolerate it,” Pope Francis told Italian newspaper La Stampa.
“But in general, I trust that gradually everyone will be reassured by the spirit of the ‘Fiducia Supplicans’ declaration by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith: it aims to include, not divide,” the Pope added.
Africa’s Take on the Matter
In some African nations like Uganda, engaging in same-sex relationships carries severe legal repercussions, including imprisonment and in extreme cases death penalty.
Similarly, Kenya’s clerics under the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops interpreted the Pope’s stance as an embrace of tolerance.
While strongly opposing those who misinterpreted the catholic church head’s directive, the clerics noted that the Pope’s invitation to members of the queer community into church spaces wasn’t an endorsement of their orientation.
According to their understanding of his argument, the Pope emphasized the equality of all humans, irrespective of the cultures they choose to embrace.
Addressing concerns in an interview with La Stampa, Pope Francis brushed off worries about conservative factions breaking away from the Catholic Church due to his reforms.
He downplayed the notion of a schism, attributing such talk to ‘small groups’
Pope Francis further expressed confidence in the Church’s ability to navigate ideological differences.
“We must leave them to it and move on…and look forward,” he said.