Synod Member Objects to Kenyan Court’s Pro-LGBTQ+ Ruling

Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde

An archbishop who will be a member of the Vatican’s upcoming Synod assembly has decried a Kenyan court’s ruling that an LGBTQ+ group may gain legal recognition.

Last week, Kenya’s Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to its previous ruling that the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission must be recognized as a legal non-governmental organization. The rulings come after a decade-long legal battle by the group to gain such recognition after being denied it. Crux reported on the negative response of Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa:

“It is very unfortunate. If you legalize something, it means you are promoting it. . .Registering them (LGBTQ associations) means you are giving life to the behaviors. If you join a football club it means you are ready to play football,” [Kivuva] said.

“Kivuva, 71, is among the prelates chosen by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa to take part in the upcoming Oct. 4-29 Synod of Bishops on Synodality in the Vatican, where, among other topics, the question of blessing same-sex unions is expected to arise.”

The archbishop also questioned the Supreme Court’s ruling the way it did given thatgovernment leaders were opposed to recognizing LGBTQ+ groups. He suggested the decision could be caused by financial concerns:

“‘Why is this happening now? Is money exchanging hands? Is money the only thing we need?’ he asked.

“The reference to money could be triggered by what has happened in neighboring Uganda, where the World Bank has withheld critical funding to the country on the grounds that it enacted draconian laws against gays.”

Earlier this year, when the Kenyan Supreme Court first ruled in this case, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri said the outcome was dangerous because it could normalize LGBTQ+ people in Kenya, where homosexuality is criminalized. In 2019, Cardinal John Njue and Bishop Alfred Rotich were both outspoken supporters of continued criminalization of same-gender intimacy when the Kenyan Supreme Court considered the matter.

The situation for LGBTQ+ people in Kenya and surrounding countries is dire, creating thousands of refugees, many and perhaps most of whom are Catholic, as a recent article in the National Catholic Reporter detailed. Several priests and religious brothers have offered support for the LGBTQ+ communities there, and Catholics globally have expressed solidarity. Overall, however, bishops in the region have responded quite poorly.

LGBTQ+ inclusion will likely surface at the global assembly for the Synod set for next month in Rome, at which Archbishop Kivuva will be participating. A Jesuit priest from Cameroon wrote recently that African delegates likely would resist efforts to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people given deep cultural prejudices. While questions of relationships, blessings, and identities may be more complex, a baseline statement the assembly should commit to is that LGBTQ+ people should not be criminalized and deserve protections from discrimination. Indeed, doing so would merely be catching up to Pope Francis’ position.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, September 19, 2023

2 replies
  1. Alexei
    Alexei says:

    Seems to me that the archbishop has just judged Jesus very strongly. I wonder how he preaches about the woman supposedly “taken in adultery” – she was apprehended in the act, but somehow her accomplice wasn’t. Does he have an excuse for “let the one without sin cast the first stone”? Do the other bishops shop at his quarry?

    “For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force…it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.”
    Saint John Chrysostom “On the Priesthood”, Book II,

  2. James Riley
    James Riley says:

    It is very unfortunate, in fact catastrophic, that religious leaders especially including Roman Catholic bishops, in many African nations are serving as the major force in the passage and implementation of repressive anti-LGBTQ+ laws including criminalization; this is wrong and contrary to the inclusive teachings of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the Synod with its commitment to listening with the aid of the Holy Spirit will help to bring an end to this dangerous and pernicious folly.


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