In rare public split, Catholic bishops differ sharply on anti-gay laws

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Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, pictured in a 2010 file photo. Photo by Nancy Wiechec, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, pictured in a 2010 file photo. Photo by Nancy Wiechec, courtesy of Catholic News Service

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(RNS) The emergence of punitive measures against gay people in various countries has opened a stark and public fissure among church leaders in different nations. The divisions are also raising questions about whether Pope Francis needs to take action.

  • Larry

    Consider such laws are only an invitation to human rights abuse, even the most homophobic bishop SHOULD be opposing such measures.

    The reasoning used in their support of such laws smacks of the kind of assent they gave to governments who wanted to persecute other faiths and various ethnic groups.

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  • Hrh Elizabeth F

    the ban on homosexuality was in the old testament under the law of Moses and Jesus has repealed it and established Grace Hebrews 10:9 , secondly the buggery act of 1533 which was brought in by Henry 8th and the basis of all the anti gay laws which was passed down to the colonies was actually passed as a wicked act by Henry in a bid to get rid of the Catholics who as you know he was trying to break away from. Manyof the priests were gays and so he wanted to nabb them with this law , the bible writers of course obeyed the King and followed suit in the bible versions from the time of Henry. True. The church of England of which he was head over too preached it as their king stated it.

    Secondly practically Nigerian stance from a Christian point of view is not a Love your neighbour stance which it must stand under , as homosexuality is not a crime against another it should not warrant a punishment as it is not breaking the law of Love which Jesus established.

    Thirdly practically those that are affected with HIV AIDS will not be able to go and get treatment whether they are gays or heterosexuals as they will be given over to the police.

    many will should have a second thought on it

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  • africa2025

    The new law in Nigeria does not punish anyone entering into a same-sex relationship : it punishes PUBLIC relationship, assimilating it to propaganda.
    It condemns also the (commercial) attitude targeting specifically (exclusively…) gays and lesbians.

    This is not against homosexuality per se, but against propaganda and proselytism.
    Any discrimination against gays and lesbians is, at least, not allowed, nor encouraged, by this law.

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  • Larry

    So in other words gays have to keep their personal lives secret at all costs under penalty of imprisonment and possible execution. Any kind of expression of what they are and who they are is criminal.

    Kind of like how Jews under the Spanish Inquisition had to keep their faith secret from the public under the threat of torture and burning at the stake. Another more ironic example would be Christians under Nero facing similar situations.

    There is no way you can possibly spin these laws into anything less than gross violations of human rights. I don’t have to care whether you consider homosexuality a sin or not. We do not base laws in a civilized society based on religious notions of sin. Criminal penalties for blasphemy, idolatry and adultery have plenty of support from the Bible. But they are also completely at odds with civilized society, rule of law and constitute human rights abuses.

  • gilhcan

    No surprise in this episcopal disagreement given all that has been exposed about the natural sexual proclivities of the clergy for the past several decades. For well over 1,000 years, for that matter. Given that so many Catholic clergy are practicing gays in spite of their public celibacy, and given the fact so many bishops as well as priests have found it necessary to hide in closets of varying depths of darkness and cheat and lie and steal regarding their sex lives, this should not be considered news but more an exposure of reality.

    It’s time the church comes to honest terms with this phenomenon. The most psychologically healthy thing it could do would be to eliminate required celibacy and ordain women. That would be natural, right, and corrective. Allow gay clergy, but let it be open and honest.

  • gilhcan

    There is no difference in the aspects of your argument. They are all based on ignorance and the hatred of prejudice. You argue that it is just to have a homosexual sex life as long as you hide it, but because heterosexuality is the majority, it is justified to parade that and practice ugly prejudice against homosexuality and homosexuals. In other words, morals and ethics are nothing but the expressions of the majority. To hell with science, sociology, psychology, and even open and honest history. What is the value of knowledge if we do not apply it to our lives?

  • gilhcan

    There are a number of errors in all this. The church at large is guilty of unhealthy attitudes toward sex and its orientation in general. The conflict between celibacy and sexual practices on the part of clergy and religious who promise its chastity prove this.

    The continuing, hidden, and unresolved problem of sexual abuse among clergy is a glaring example of that. The bold attitude of celibate clergy to try to dictate to the people in the pews about contraception is outrageous when it is the people in the pews who have to support both the children that result from not using contraception and also support the clergy who preach against contraception The same can be claimed about abortion in very early stages or when a mother’s life is at risk. As was sung in the musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” “…it is he who has the fun and you who has the babies!”

    Why should church decisions coming from one man or even a select group of celibate men be honored when it is the people in the pews who have the life experience and broader knowledge of these matters?

    The attitudes promoted by John Paul II and Benedict betrayed an awful ignorance and disregard for science, sociology, psychology, and history–especially church history. That is the obvious result of too limiting a background in selective philosophy and theology.

    The people in the pews make up the very vast majority of the People of God. Why is it that they have so little say in church matters as when Paul VI ignored the very experienced, select committee that advised him to the contrary of his published, disastrous “Humanae Vitae”?

    It should not be surprising that the clash between the cultures of backward nations like many in Africa and those of the West presents even greater problems, like attitudes about sexual orientation, whether its personal, social, religious, or political. The church has been broadcasting its growth coming from backward, illiterate nations. The shallow and sad results of that enumeration are coming home to roost.

    What is to be said about the literacy of the world’s population in these times when it sadly relies on the words that issue forth from the mind of any one person, be he pope or peasant? This is an illiterate antiquity with which we must be finished. Naturally, bishop do not think alike, even if they don’t dare speak their minds honestly and openly.

  • Atheist Max

    HrH Elizabeth,

    Jesus “repealed” the old testament laws about homosexuality?

    I guess we can never know what religious people will come up with next. Where is this written? Where is Jesus’ authoritative statement? Why are there millions of Christians who still don’t know for sure?

    If Jesus was a God capable of leaving us with a clear message don’t you think we would all know what that message is?
    Yet we are left wringing our hands in wonder.

    Leviticus clearly states that homosexuals should be killed.
    Yes, Jesus did say “love your neighbor”.
    But all bets are off if that neighbor has been already deemed “unworthy” and their “blessing of peace” has been removed – by your judgement.

    “If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.” (Matt 10:14)

    This leaves the whole ball of wax in the reader’s hands!
    It is an injunction to judge others. Harshly.

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  • MM

    Jesus repealed the Old Testament ban on homosexuality?
    Jesus said “If you won’t believe Moses, you won’t believe me.”
    Liz, self-deception can be self-destructive. Do not fool yourself.

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  • Davis Mac-Iyalla

    Open Letter to the Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama.

    Dear Ignatious,

    I read with joy your comments condemning Nigeria’s draconian anti-gay legislation, and the consequent unchristian persecution of gay people (published in the pinknews paper

    You added that there had been a “gross misinterpretation of the law” by the media. This is not true. As a Christian Nigerian man who is openly homosexual, and having lived in Nigeria until 2008 when I was forced to leave, I have been challenging the Nigerian churches over their homophobia for many years, and have seen and experienced the terrible persecutions which gay people face in their homeland. I continue to receive reports from friends and colleagues of what gay people are going through in Nigeria. If anything the media underplays the terrible violence which this legislation has unleashed.

    I strongly believe in family and marriage, but also believe that If two people of the same sex want to make their relationship more stable and commit themselves more deeply to each other, this can only be for the good of Nigeria. It makes no difference whether the couple is gay or straight.
    You said “we are not supporting the criminalisation of people with different sexual orientations,” “We would defend any person with homosexual orientation who is being harassed, who is being imprisoned, who is being punished.”

    Following the passing of the Nigerian anti gay law there was and continues to be wide-spread violent attacks against those suspected of being homosexuals in Nigeria. Indeed, the persecution of gay people in Nigeria is strongly influenced by religious homophobia.

    The Nigerian Christian Association has stood firm in supporting the new laws, and there is no record anywhere to prove that your church or any other church has seriously challenged the persecution of gay people in Nigeria.

    I applaud what you are doing, but for the love of God, please continue to speak out, as strongly as you are able, against the barbaric treatment of gay people in Nigeria. All right thinking Christians throughout the world, including His Holiness, will be listening.

    In Peace,
    Davis Mac-Iyalla

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