The Catholic Church Monday said in a decree that the church cannot sanction gay marriage since God “cannot bless sin.” The message, despite how unnecessary it may seem to many who are not beholden to the church, holds relevance for many people.
There are elements within the communication that may fly over the head of some of these groups for whom this message is relevant that need highlighting, especially on the heel of a recent spate of attack on the LGBT+ community in Ghana led by the Catholic Church there.
The decree, which comes in response to a question about whether the church has the power to give its blessings to unions of persons of the same sex, to which the church answered ‘Negative,’ also noted that “God himself never ceases to bless each of his pilgrim children.”
For homophobic Catholics, priests and congregants alike, the emphasis on ‘sin’ is a welcome confirmation of a rhetoric that has pervaded their conversation about LGBT rights in many African countries.
“We can’t abide in sin,” or any other iteration of that is something many a ‘Christ-like’ Christian has said in response to demands of the LGBT+ for their God-given right to live and love freely. This never needed reconfirmation from the Catholic Church.
For LGBT+ Catholics who hold onto their faith notwithstanding the negative attitude towards their being from other Catholics, the decree is unambiguous about the Church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people. The church, it seems draws the line at blessing the union of gay people. This is for LGBT+ Catholics to do with, as they choose.
The decree is nothing profound or new, the Church’s stand on gay relationships has always been one in which it considers them, “deviant behaviour.”
Blessing Chuma* a lesbian and lifetime catholic is unmoved by the new decree, “The last decade has been weird even for an institution with as dark a history as the catholic church. My faith in Christ is unmoved as am I by this decree. The way the church has been spazzing lately is a dying institution’s attempt at maintaining relevance in a time more and more people are drifting away from the Church. I’ll advise the church focuses its energy on tackling the pedophilia within it.”
The Pope, in an interview in 2019, previously endorsed providing gay couples with legal protection. This widely misreported interview is however, less about the Church’s stance on LGBT+ relationships and more about its stance on equal human rights for all people within the civil sphere.
The Catholic Churches across African countries where human rights are in the bin for the LGBT+ have something to learn from its parent body in the Vatican – human rights transcend the sanctity of one’s religions.
As the religious continue to find community in shared bigotry, the LGBT+ community is at liberty to seek and be guaranteed protection outside the church by secular democratic institutions.
While it is easy to despair, LGBT+ Catholics must remember that the Catholic Church’s doctrines are not set in stone.
The church’s position on homosexuality has evolved over the years and will continue to do so. That evolution is very likely going to be towards more inclusion if the timeline of the church’s evolution on the matter is anything to go by.
* Name has been changed for anonymity.