Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have expressed disagreement with the position of Pope Francis on the blessing of same-sex couples.

They said the Pope’s stance could be translated as endorsement of same-sex marriage.

This was contained in a speech by Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, at the formal opening of the 2024 First Plenary Assembly of the CBCN on Sunday, at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja.

According to him, statements or declarations from the Holy See should expectedly foster unity and communion on matters of doctrine, morals and liturgy, but unfortunately, Fiducia Supplicans did otherwise, adding that the declaration hurt the unity and catholicity of the Church.

“We must sincerely admit that the Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans (On the Pastoral Meaning Blessings), issued on 18th December, 2023, by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has added to our pains,” he said.

According to him, while the document prohibits liturgical blessings for same-sex couples, it recommends at the same time spontaneous pastoral blessings for couples in irregular situations, including the blessing of same-sex couples.

“It further stressed that such pastoral blessings should not be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding.

“Given the ambiguities in the Declaration, the document quickly aroused mixed reactions of acceptance, sceptical reserve and outright rejection from Episcopal Conferences and individual Bishops across the world,” Ugorji said.

He noted that with the media hype that ambushed the text, its publication generated shock, outrage and disbelief among the faithful in Nigeria as elsewhere in Africa and other parts of the world, with many devout Catholics in the communities wondering how a Priest could bless same-sex couples who live permanently in a sinful union without causing confusion and scandal.

He said, “In the midst of this confusion and pushback, we must, as Pastors with the pastoral task of safeguarding the deposit of faith in its purity and integrity, uphold the teaching of the Church based on Holy Scripture and Tradition.

“We shouldn’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by renewing our minds, so we may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect. We must continue to teach our faithful that there is no possibility of blessing same-sex couples or same-sex unions in the Church in Africa. “Homosexual acts are of grave depravity which are intrinsically disordered and, above all, contrary to natural law. In furtherance of our pastoral and prophetic mission, we must also continue to stress that God loves the sinner unconditionally and calls him to repentance so that he might live.