Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru of the Diocese of Wote, Kenya, criticized the dicastery issuing the declaration for not widely consulting bishops before doing so. He added that the declaration “should be rejected in totality and we faithfully uphold the Gospel teachings and Catholic traditional teachings on marriage and sexuality.”
“Because the Church cannot ask God to bless sin, I hereby prohibit all priests in the Catholic Diocese of Wote from [the] blessing of couples in irregular situations or same-sex couples,” the bishop added, citing a previous Vatican declaration from 2021.
Another Kenyan bishop, Bishop Cleophas Oseso Tuka of the Diocese of Nakuru, said in a New Year’s message that “the blessings of the same-sex union fundamentally goes against what the Church teaches,” according to the Kenya-based Nation Media group.
Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese issued a strong condemnation of the document, alleging both heresy and blasphemy.
“[It] looks to us like a heresy; it reads like a heresy; and its effects a heresy,” the bishop said.
“We cannot allow such an offensive and apparently blasphemous declaration to be implemented in our dioceses,” Mtumbuka said and apologized to Catholics who have been “deeply hurt and scandalized by this declaration.”
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, which represents all of the bishops on the continent, has sent a letter to the bishops asking for their input on Fiducia Supplicans. The ecclesiastical body plans to “draw up a single synodal pronouncement, valid for the whole Church in Africa.”
Bishops elsewhere remain divided on the declaration
Church hierarchy around the world has continued to issue guidance on Fiducia Supplicans, but not all bishops are on the same page. Some bishops have welcomed the declaration, some are approaching it with caution, and others are refusing to implement it.
The Hungarian Catholic Bishops Conference joined the bishops of several other Eastern and Central European countries in rejecting any blessings for same-sex couples: “[W]e can bless all individuals regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but we must always avoid giving a common blessing to couples who live together in a mere relationship, or who are not in a valid marriage or same-sex relationship.”
Bishop János Székely of the Diocese of Szombathely reaffirmed that stance within his diocese, saying that such blessings would provide “the moral approval of the Church for their relationship and their life decision.”
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“We would be falsifying the Gospel of Christ and failing to do what we should do as pastors toward such a couple if we were to give a blessing to the two of them in such a case,” the bishop added.
Bishop Adair José Guimarães of the Diocese of Formosa, Brazil, announced that he would not implement the declaration in his diocese after consulting lay Catholics and priests. He said the priests who responded “were practically unanimous that these applications would bring misunderstanding and scandal” and concluded that “our diocese is not in a position to apply these suggestions.”
Bishop Rafael Escudero López-Brea of the Territorial Prelature of Moyobamba in Peru ordered priests “not to carry out any form of blessing for couples in an irregular situation or for same-sex couples.”
The Polish Episcopal Conference similarly rejected any same-sex blessings within Poland, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church stated that the declaration does not apply to Eastern Catholic churches.
Bishop Marc Aillet of the Diocese of Bayonne, France, raised concerns about blessing the “couple,” as permitted in the declaration, rather than simply blessing “two individual people,” warning that it seems to “endorse the homosexual activity which links them.”
For this reason, the bishop will permit his priests to bless persons individually, rather than bless the couple: “I invite them, if people ask, to give them a blessing, provided that it is to each person individually, calling them to conversion and inviting them to ask for the help of the grace that the Lord grants to all those who ask him to conform their lives to the will of God.”