The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has assured the catholic community that the recent pronouncement of the Pope on same-sex marriage does not in any way change the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage.
The group in a statement signed by Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Owerri, and Bishop Donatus Ogun of Uromi, the President and Secretary respectively of the CBCN, said that the clarification became necessary following the confusion the Fiducia Supplicans released by the Vatican has created among Christians and the Catholic faithful.
According to them, blessing same-sex marriage will go against God’s Law, the teachings of the Church, “the laws of our nation and the cultural sensibilities of our people”.
The Catholic Bishops also explained that the declaration on the Pastoral meaning of blessings, “Fiducia Supplicans”, by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith only seeks to clarify the different forms of blessings that can be given to persons and objects in the Catholic Church.
The Bishops also assured the entire People of God that the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage remains the same.
The CBCN explained that although the Declaration reiterates the Catholic Church’s perennial teaching on marriage as an “exclusive, stable and indissoluble union of a man and woman, naturally open to the generation of children”, it, however, stated clearly that the Church does not have the power to impart a blessing on irregular unions.
The Bishops added that the document also explains the different forms of blessings that can be given to persons, including the possibility of blessing in irregular unions.
“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.
“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”, the statement added.