Africa: Reactions Against Fiducia Supplicans Growing

Source: FSSPX News

Togo Bishops Conference

Have the authors of the declaration Fiducia supplicans dealing with “the pastoral significance of blessings” misjudged the reaction of Catholics in African countries? The question is valid. And it is clear, day after day, that the challenge to the document is spreading throughout the continent.

After Malawi and Zambia, which reacted very quickly and gave the order not to give blessings to same-sex couples, four other episcopates have followed: Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, and Kenya.


The statement from the Nigerian bishops, dated December 20, affirms “that the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage remains the same. There is therefore no possibility for the Church to bless homosexual unions and activities. This would go against the law of God, the teachings of the Church, the laws of our nation and the cultural sensitivities of our people.”

Spontaneously or deliberately, the text takes up the words of the February 21, 2021 Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which said that “the Church does not have the power to bless unions of people of the same sex.” 


Dated December 21, the statement from the Ghanaian bishops uses this formulation: “The Church does not have the power to confer her liturgical blessing when this would offer in one way or another a form of moral legitimacy to a union that presents itself as a marriage or to extramarital sexual practice.”

Furthermore, the statement interprets the non-liturgical blessing as a prayer: “The blessing which …can be given to everyone, refers to prayers… and are intended to lead to conversion. Prayers for people in homosexual relationships are not intended to legitimize their lifestyle, but to lead them on the path to conversion.”


Dated December 20, the statement from the Togo bishops notes “the questions, concerns, and turmoil caused by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith publication of the Fiducia supplicans Declaration on the pastoral meaning of blessings,” as an answer.

They cite the response to the Dubia of the two Cardinals: “the rites and prayers which could create confusion between what constitutes marriage, namely ‘an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children’ are inadmissible.” They conclude: “This is why, with regard to the blessing of homosexual couples, the Bishops of Togo recommend that priests abstain from it.”


The Kenyan bishops' clarification, while strongly insisting, like those of all other African episcopates, that the Declaration does not in any way change the doctrine of marriage, admits the “individual” blessing of all those who ask. The text emphasizes this personal aspect, thus ruling out the blessing of “couples.”

Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar

Through an intervention by its president, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SCEAM), decided to consult all African episcopates to try to develop a pastoral declaration for all Churches of the continent. Is this a spontaneous request, or is it a way to try to “take back control”?

Nevertheless, it seems impossible, in the current context, to go back on the declarations of the episcopates which have already released: this would increase the disorder and create a situation without a solution. So, it is probable that this text, if it sees the light of day, will repeat more or less what the pioneer episcopates have already said.


Reading the various episcopal conferences’ interventions, it appears that the bishops' primary goal is to defend marriage which, in the minds of their faithful and even their priests, is being attacked by the Declaration. They all claim to want to clarify the text, which confirms its obscurity. And very often, they interpret it by modifying it in a Catholic sense.

In fact, this confirms that the message conveyed by the text amounts to a sort of legitimization of irregular and same-sex unions. This is how the faithful, and even many priests, spontaneously understand it. Will the Vatican be able to hear this cry of astonishment from the peripheries?