Same-Sex Marriage: Nigeria Catholic Bishops Make U-turn on Pope’s Decision to Bless Union

In a groundbreaking decision by the Vatican on December 18, 2023, Pope Francis endorsed a directive allowing Catholic priests the capacity to bless same-sex unions.

The historic ruling, however, specifies that such blessings are not to coincide with traditional church ceremonies, civil unions, or weddings.

Meanwhile, the intent, as described in the document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, is not to validate non-traditional relationships but rather to extend a gesture signifying God’s inclusive embrace to all, including those in “irregular situations.”

Despite the Vatican’s move towards inclusivity, the response from the Catholic Bishops of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province, encompassing the Lagos Archdiocese, Ijebu Ode, and Abeokuta Dioceses, has been one of staunch opposition.
Following their plenary meeting on January 26, the bishops released a communique firmly aligning with the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, rejecting the notion of blessing same-sex marriages.

The communique, endorsed by Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Alfred Martins, and Bishop of Ijebu-Ode, Most Rev Francis Adesina, underscored their commitment to the traditional Catholic doctrine on marriage — a union exclusively between a man and a woman, aimed at procreation.

The Vatican’s approval has indeed stirred a pot of mixed reactions, highlighting a divide between the pursuit of inclusivity and adherence to traditional church teachings. The Lagos and Ogun Catholic bishops’ rejection of same-sex blessings underscores a broader conversation within the global Catholic community about balancing doctrinal fidelity with evolving social attitudes.

As the church grapples with these complex issues, the underlying message from the Vatican suggests a step towards a more welcoming stance, albeit within certain boundaries. This development, while celebrated by some, remains a contentious topic.


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