Bishops: Pope's message doesn't OK gay marriages

Same-sex couples take part in a public blessing ceremony in front of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, on Sept. 20, 2023. [AP Photo]

Catholic Bishops have said Pope Francis’s blessing of unions is not an approval of same sex marriages.

In a press statement, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops clarified that the letter from Rome titled ‘Fiducia Supplicans’ ( Sense of Blessings) was to expand the scope of blessings -- to include blessings not given in liturgical setting.

The bishops led by Chairman Archbishop Martin Kivuva said the value of the letter was to expand the kind of blessings priests and clergy can offer to their flock.

“This document does not change in any way the understanding of marriage as a sacrament in the church it is indissoluble union between a man and a woman for life,” he said.

The statement said the declaration remains firm in the tradition doctrine of the Church about marriage.

Catholic Bishops also insisted that the declaration does not approve same sex marriage or try to give a back door recognition of such a union.

“It does not seek an alternative “union blessing” to substitute a sacramental marriage,” he said.

Kivuva noted that the church does not withhold blessings from anyone irrespective of their moral life or faith.

The statement clarified that same sex marriages do not find acceptance in African culture.

“In blessings persons we do not bless the immoral actions they may perform but hope the blessings and prayers will provoke them to conversion and to return to the ways of the Lord,” the bishops stated.

This comes barely two months after a section of Catholic Archbishops from around the world converged in the Vatican for a meeting with the Pope Francis to discuss social and cultural concerns affecting the church.

The Synod on Synodality was held in October and is a meeting that takes place every five years.

It brings together bishops from around the world and is chaired by Pope Francis to discuss ways to improve and grow the church.

The Kenyan delegation was represented by Kivuva and Nyeri Archbishop Antony Muheria who shared views collected from Kenyan Catholics.

Catholic faithful raised concerns that there was no guidance for young couples, newlyweds, couples living with disability and couples with young children.

Kenyan Catholics also stated they wanted priests to be more humane and commune with their congregants without imposing unreasonable conditions for sacrament.

“The faithful want priests to be accessible and available during funerals, baptisms and weddings without conditions,” noted Kivuva.

There were concerns also that some of the demands made by priests were pushing people away from the church.

Catholics also asked the church to pay attention to accountability and transparency in usage of funds.

On the Pope’s message, Archbishop Muheria said priests give blessings to anyone who honestly asks for them. “This is not about approval of same-sex unions. All sinners need blessings on their way to Truth and God,” he said.