Coalition calls redefinition of marriage a "sad, unjust and lamentable situation"
ROME — The coalition of African bishops will be a major player at the upcoming Synod on the Family in the Vatican this October.
As a foretaste of the strength of their convictions, here below we publish the official statement released Wednesday, July 8th, by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria in the wake of the US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” in all 50 states.
The letter also comes in response to the recent referendum in Ireland and other similar legislation supporting the LGBT agenda, as well as attempts to impose that agenda on the nations of Africa.
The official statement was signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, President of the Nigerian Bishop’s Conference, and His Excellency William Avenya, Bishop of Gboko, and Conference Secretary.
Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, who serves as Director of Communications for the African Bishops, commented on the role Africa will play at the October Synod on the Family, in light the US Supreme Court and similar decisions, and continued attempts by certain members of the German, French and Swiss episcopates to push through what some consider a heretical agenda, as evidenced in the confidential, closed-door meeting at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome last May. He said:
“Very clearly, the current mood in some countries on marriage and family has placed even greater responsibility on the bishops who will represent Africa at the forthcoming Synod to present with respect, but even greater force and clarity, the position of Africans and the Church in Africa on the family as a model for the world to emulate.
The unshaken faith of Africans in the sanctity of human life and the family needs to be respected and applauded rather than scorned and penalized by those who would like to use their resources and position to pressure Africa to change their beliefs and values.
The jointmeeting of the bishops of Africa and Europe
which took place in Maputo, Mozambique — at the same time as themeeting of some bishops
at the Gregorian University in Rome last May — already established that it is desirable for the Universal Church to take more seriously the African resilience on family values as a way of revitalizing other parts of the world that have become barren of such pro-life motivations.”
In Bishop Badejo’s latest weekly article for Nigeria’s national papers, he presented the bishops’ statement, which we publish below.
IN THE SPLENDOR OF TRUTH
Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, Bishop of Oyo
The trials of certitude
These are tough days for traditional and religious certitudes. Today’s field belongs to the game-changers of modernity: entertainment, sports, fashion and their gods and goddesses. These generate, promote and endorse modern fads at will, and are aided in this “enthronement-of-the-ephemeral” by the powerful channels of media. Economic and political powers now revel in openly embracing such modern “market forces” of non-values, and fall over each other to appear as promoters of human rights and freedom. Many sane, serious minds are rattled.
Flailing faith and morality
Pope St. John Paul ll prophetically wrote his monumental encyclical,Veritatis Splendor
[The Splendor of Truth], in 1993. Paraphrasing the questions of modern man, the pope asked: “Do the commandments of God, which are written on the human heart and are part of the Covenant, really have the capacity to clarify the daily decisions of individuals and entire societies? …. Also, an opinion is also frequently heard which questions the intrinsic and unbreakable bond between faith and morality, as if membership in the Church and her internal unity were to be decided on the basis of faith alone, while in the sphere of morality, a pluralism of opinions and kinds of behavior could be tolerated, these being left to the judgment of the individual subjective conscience or to the diversity of social and cultural contexts (Veritatis Splendor
To illuminate these perplexities and guide the faithful, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria have issued a statement on morality matters arising across the world. Below is their teaching.
Official Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria
OUR STAND ON MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND HUMAN SOCIETY
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria would like to once again reiterate the perspective of the Church on more recent developments concerning the sanctity and dignity of human life and the institutions of marriage and the family all across the world. The recent rise in Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender activism, the popular vote in the Republic of Ireland and the Supreme Court decision in the United States of America will tend to provoke a notable and rapid shift in public opinion about the nature and meaning of marriage and family as it has been known for millennia. This, in many countries, has inevitably led to powerful legislative and judicial maneuvers to redefine marriage in order to include “same-sex marriage.” We wish to state that this is a sad, unjust and lamentable situation based largely upon a distorted perception of natural law, the will of God and human nature.
Canada, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Ireland and most recently, the United States of America are some of the countries that have gone down this path. They are nations who undeniably have cultural, social and economic influence upon many African nations including Nigeria. Mozambique has not yet accepted same-sex marriage, but they have struck down their legal ban on sodomy, thereby opening the door to the festering of the homosexual culture/subculture within their society. Our people daily interact with these and other nations at different levels. These countries also generate a lot of the media content consumed in our country and continent as well as much of the educational materials used in our schools. They also give generous humanitarian aid to various establishments and projects in our country and continent. In these ways, their views, thoughts and trends are easily embedded into the heart of our society and influence many people, especially the impressionable young ones.
As Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, we are grateful for these interactions and support. We are however also concerned for the influence which some of these trends could have on morality and values. We therefore hereby express our concern with regard to the persistent and continuous propagation and globalization of the homosexual lifestyle and the effort to redefine marriage which is a distorted view of human sexuality, coming especially from the Western world. We call on our leaders to be circumspect. Accepting this Western trend by officially endorsing homosexual unions or “same-sex marriage” will be devastating and detrimental to our nation of Nigeria, as it will lead to the inevitable deconstruction of the family and the society at large, with other serious but negative implications.
For our part, we hereby re-emphasize that Marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman for the begetting and care of children. It forms the core of the family, which is the bedrock and foundational cell of our civilization and as such judges to shun all pressures and protect all Nigerians from the growing but dangerous influence of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender propaganda. We appeal to professionals in the domains of media, music, entertainment, teaching, medicine, marketing and business to become faithful gatekeepers by protecting the public from the infiltration of this propaganda, which is often spread through various media and forums. We encourage parents to educate their children on the immutable meaning of marriage so as to strengthen them to stand fearless by the indelible truth in a rapidly changing world. We urge young people to learn and hold firmly unto sound religious and cultural values that celebrate the beauty and blessings of marriage as the lifelong union between one man and one woman.
Finally we pray that God will grant us all the courage, integrity and perseverance needed at this time to uphold the unchangeable truth about the dignity of human sexuality and the sanctity of the institution of marriage.
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.