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Catholic Church Clarifies Pope’s Pronouncement: No Formal Blessings for Same-Sex Marriage

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By Gad Masereka

Kampala, Uganda – Sunday, December 24, 2023

Amidst growing concerns and speculations following a recent pronouncement by Pope Francis on blessings for same-sex couples, the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) has moved to clarify that the document, published by the Vatican’s faith department, does not alter the Catholic Church’s stance on same-sex marriages or unions.

UEC chairman Bishop Anthony Joseph Zziwa addressed journalists in Kampala on December 23, gesturing assertively as he sought to dispel any misconceptions. The document approved by Pope Francis on Monday permits blessings for same-sex couples but explicitly excludes contexts related to civil unions or weddings.

“Take it from us from today that this document does not in any way change the teachings of the Catholic Church on holy matrimony. The declaration is firm on the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church about marriage. There is no way you can say that we are going to bless same-sex unions in church,” Bishop Zziwa declared.

In an effort to elaborate on this clarification, Bishop Zziwa emphasized that the permission for blessings applies only in specific situations, such as requests for blessings for conversion, travel, or home prayers. However, he cautioned against providing or promoting the blessing ritual in irregular situations.

“How can you say that we are going to preside over the marriage of such people which is contravening the law of the nation? Culturally, same-sex marriage has no room in Uganda and Africa,” Bishop Zziwa remarked, noting that Ugandan law prohibits same-sex relationships.

During a Christmas message delivered at the Catholic Secretariat in Kampala, Bishop Zziwa urged devotees not to panic, putting to rest fears and speculations surrounding the Vatican’s pronouncement. He reiterated that the misinterpretation of the Pope’s document has prompted the Catholic Church in Uganda to center their Christmas and New Year gospel reflections on the importance of family for the nation’s development.

“The purpose of marriage is to have children. People of the same sex can’t get married and fulfill this purpose as stated in the book of Genesis. Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, so we happily celebrate his birthday [Christmas Day],” Bishop Zziwa emphasized.

As the Catholic Church grapples with discussions around inclusivity and tradition, Bishop Zziwa concluded by advising the faithful to reject ideologies and practices that seek to undermine family and national peace. The message to Christians included a call to “fight selfishness, greed, corruption, injustice, envy, immorality, poverty, hunger, and all forms of conflict,” emphasizing the values central to the Church’s teachings. The UEC reiterated that the Catholic Church, in Uganda, will not perform formal blessings for same-sex marriages.

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