Africa / Commentary / Faith and religion

Comment: Pope should speak when bishops cause suffering

Pope Francis should appeal to anti-LGBT African Catholics to love their LGBT neighbors, says Bondings 2.0, a publication of New Ways Ministry, which seeks reconciliation for LGBT Catholics. The occasion was the statement by Cameroonian bishops that they have “zero tolerance” for homosexuality — a statement that drew a recent reprimand from the LGBT advocates at Alternatives-Cameroon. This is an excerpt from the Bondings 2.0 commentary:

Pope Francis (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Pope Francis (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

When Pope Francis made his pastoral visit to Africa last fall, Catholics and LGBT advocates worldwide called on him to condemn laws which criminalize homosexuality and to appeal for mercy on behalf of sexual and gender minorities. Francis remained silent. While there is no direct link to the pope, it is easy to see how Cameroon’s bishops feel permitted to make such statements [as “zero tolerance” for homosexuality] when the pope refuses to condemn anti-LGBT laws.

Importantly, though, the bishops’ call for “zero tolerance” defies even the hierarchy’s own teachings about homosexuality which call for all people to be welcomed with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and for all signs of discrimination to be opposed. Pope Francis seeks a more decentralized church  which respects local decision-making, and this can be good. But when people will suffer greatly and even die because of church leaders’ actions, there exists a case of justifiable intervention by a higher authority, according to the principle of subsidiarity. Pope Francis remained silent last fall, but it is not too late for him to speak out and end episcopal prejudice so openly displayed.

For more information, read the full Bondings 2.0 commentary, “LGBT Advocates to Cameroon’s Bishops: Retract Demand of ‘Zero Tolerance’ of Homosexuality.”

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