The Washington Blade reported today:
An African archbishop on Thursday specifically discussed homosexuality during a Vatican press conference.
Vatican Radio reported that Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Archdiocese of Accra [in Ghana] said countries need “time to deal with” homosexuality and other “issues from our own cultural perspectives.” He also highlighted the need for “the dignity and rights of all God’s sons and daughters need to be upheld,” as Vatican Radio reported.
Palmer-Buckle’s comments come four days after he and other Catholic bishops began a three-week gathering in Rome [the Synod on the Family] during which they will vote on a document that specifically addresses the family. Leaked drafts indicate that it reiterates the church’s opposition to unions between gays and lesbians.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a gay Nigerian man who received asylum in the U.K., was among the LGBT Catholics who gathered in Rome earlier this month ahead of the start of the bishops’ meeting.
Mac-Iyalla on Thursday noted to the Washington Blade the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria has supported anti-LGBT measures in his homeland, including a 2014 law that punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison. Mac-Iyalla added African religious leaders should “stop colluding with governments in persecuting LGBT people.”
“I want to ask Archbishop Palmer if he did speak to any LGBT people before coming to attend the synod,” he told the Blade. “LGBT Africans are available to engage with the church in Africa, but the church must create the safe space.”
In earlier comments, Palmer-Buckle has been consistently opposed to marriage equality, but also has spoken out against repression of LGBTI people and for their right to be heard.
“We have for so long a time made people suffer just because they are not ‘like us.’ We’ve made them suffer, discriminated against them, we have ostracized them. So if today the gay lobby is very loud it’s because we have almost de-humanized them. . . .
“What the Pope is bringing out is that we have no right to dehumanize anybody, either for color, for creed, or for sexual orientation. We should embrace them, and then point out, walk with them towards what the Pope believes is a certain inner voice that nobody can suffocate, that not even the media can suffocate.
“Those who are in the gay lobby, for one reason or another, have been compelled by us, the so-called ‘good ones,’ to even shove down a certain voice in themselves which definitely I think has been pointing out to them that something is not 100% right. We have contributed to that. We have also shut down in ourselves the voice which says: Everyone is a child of God, and we should welcome them all. We have no right to stone anybody, and we have no right to ostracize anybody. We should welcome them.”
Under Article 296 (4) of the Criminal Procedural Code in Ghana, sexual intimacy between men is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Mac-Iyalla added, in response to Palmer-Buckle’s comments:
“It’s important to keep reminding our religious leaders in Africa that we LGBT faithful have had enough of the discrimination and persecutions from them.
“African bishops speak about us like we don’t exist or are not part of African culture.
“LGBT West Africans want to dialogue with their church and be safe. They are not calling for same-sex marriage; they are calling their bishops and churches leaders to stop supporting and promoting anti-gay laws.
“It’s time to stop talking about us and start listening to us. “
- Synod on the Family: Press Briefing Day 4 (Oct. 8, 2015, Vatican Radio)
- LGBTI Catholics in West Africa seek compassion, change (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
- LGBT Catholics Find Little Encouragement in Family Synod Document (June 2015, The Advocate)
- LGBT Nigerian: ‘Religious leaders have abandoned us’ (January 2014, 76crimes.com)