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Nigerian catholics reject Pope's approval for same-sex couple blessings

A Catholic priest stand to turn back worshippers at the main gate to Holy Cross Cathedral closed to members to enforce government restriction on social gatherings in Lagos, on   -  
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Pope Francis has formally approved letting Catholic priests bless same-sex couples - a radical shift in policy aimed at making the church more inclusive while maintaining its strict ban on gay marriage.

But while the Vatican statement was heralded by some as a step toward breaking down discrimination in the Catholic Church, some Nigerians have frowned on the pronouncement.

In Nigeria, where same-sex marriage has been criminalised for a decade, the Catholic Bishops’ association said the pope’s declaration does not contradict the church’s teachings on marriage as an “exclusive union” of a man and a woman.

The pope's message has created confusion among the Catholic faithful in parts of Africa, including in Nigeria where many within the Catholic Church think it is evil while a few others are more liberal.

On the streets of Lagos, a few residents reacted strongly to the Pope's message. “God did not make a mistake by creating Adam and Eve" says Esezobor Divine-Favour. "He felt it was imperfect or if he wanted the world to go in this certain direction in which the Pope wants it to go into, when he was asking Noah to choose two animals into the ark, he would have told him same sex, but instead he said two, meaning different sex. The main purpose of creation was for procreation, to multiply. If we do same-sex marriage, how would that come to pass?” the Relations Officer said.

Following the announcement, human rights barrister Liborous Oshoma said that the pope’s announcement ‘does not change the law in Nigeria.’ "The law in Nigeria today is that marriage under the act, whether it is conducted or contracted in church or in a registry, it is between a man and a woman. Liborous explained.

In 2021, the Vatican decreed that the Catholic Church would not bless gay marriages because God “cannot bless sin.” 

The Vatican holds that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect but that sexual relations between people of the same sex is “intrinsically disordered.”

Catholic teaching says that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman, is part of God’s plan and is intended for the sake of creating new life.

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