Since news of the Ugandan law which criminalizes homosexuality made headlines in December when it was passed by parliament, people have been waiting to hear what that nation’s Catholic bishops thought of the measure. Now that this week the law was signed by the country’s president, the Catholic bishops’ conference has spoken out against homosexuality, but have made no comment about the new law.
A Catholic News Service article published by the National Catholic Reporter notes:
” ‘Our reaction from the church is very clear, we don’t support homosexuality,’ Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, secretary-general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, told Catholic News Service by phone Feb. 26.
“He said that when the anti-gay bill was first discussed, the country’s bishops had been against the harsh penalties it involved for homosexual acts, including the death penalty.
” ‘The bishops were not in favor of that,’ he said. ‘We were for compassion, and we believe (homosexuals) can change.’
“He said Uganda’s bishops were in a retreat and would not be available to comment on the new law until early March.
” ‘We normally don’t want to overreact,’ he said.”
What is most disturbing about the statement from the bishops’ representative is the mistaken view that someone’s sexual orientation can be changed. It is tragically remarkable that church leaders would still hold such a position, given that so much has been written to the contrary over the past few decades. Even the Catholic Catechism acknowledges that sexual orientation is not a choice. Are these bishops ignorant not only of scientific knowledge but of their own catechism, as well?
As Bondings 2.0 reported in December, there has been hope that Archbishop Michael Blume, the papal nuncio to Uganda might influence that country’s bishops to speak out against the law, as they had done in year’s past when the death penalty was a part of it. Uganda’s population is 40% Catholic, the largest denomination in the country.
The news story also noted that a Vatican official has already stated his opposition to this type of law:
“Earlier in February, . . . the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, said that the church’s affirmation of the full dignity of all human beings led him to oppose laws that outlaw homosexuality.”
Because there seems to be some momentum to oppose such laws from Vatican officials, New Ways Ministry suggests that people send tweets to Pope Francis to encourage him to speak out against Uganda’s law, and other nations’ anti-gay bills and laws, as well. The #PopeSpeakOut Twitter campaign resource page has sample tweets you can send. In addition to sending tweets, we as that you promote this campaign on all your social media and email networks.
On a more positive note regarding Uganda, Independent Catholic News reports that the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has strongly condemned the new law:
“In a statement today CAFOD said: ‘Every human person has a fundamental dignity, as created by God, and each person is precious in God’s eyes. CAFOD therefore opposes all forms of discrimination, whether based on race, religion, gender or sexuality.
” ‘As was made clear by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in their 1986 letter to Bishops all over the world: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.”.’
“A spokesperson said parts of Ugandan society was already very hostile to homosexuality and she feared the new law will lead to increased violent attacks on people who are gay, or even suspected of being gay.”
CAFOD has strong connections with international development offices at the Vatican. Let’s hope and pray that CAFOD will be able to use their influence to get the Vatican and the Ugandan bishops to condemn this heinous law.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry