By Fr. Gerald Jumbam Nyuykongmo
On a flight from Rio to Rome last July, Pope Francis answered questions on different subjects from Vatican correspondents aboard the papal plane. Surprisingly, the biggest headline from the Holy Father’s remarks came not from the key issues he addressed during the one-hour interview, but from what he said about homosexuality.
Yet, a closer look at the Pope’s remark reveals a far less revolutionary reality. Pope Francis did not change or modify a sentence on Catholic moral teaching, no! The official Catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexuality is “objectively disordered.” The Church and the Pope are not reluctant offering a moral judgment on homosexuality. The Catholic Church has a long tradition of consistent moral ruling on homosexuality which she considers sinful. This has not changed, either!
So, what did the Holy Father actually say?
In the context of his larger remarks on homosexuality, Pope Francis clarified that a homosexual “lobby” within the Church is intolerable. He told the reporters that he saw gay individuals as distinct from a gay lobby. “I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad.”
Only then did the Pope make his most-quoted sentence: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?” The Pope’s comment essentially means that homosexual acts are sinful and “objectively disordered.” Nevertheless, as the Catechism also states, homosexuals are to be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”
The Catechism further explains that to live with a sexual inclination that is objectively disordered is “a trial.” The official Catholic position is that homosexuals are called to chastity. By virtue of self-mastery, disinterested friendship, prayer, and sacramental grace they can approach Christian perfection. (Cf. CCC.2357 to 2359)
In this context, Pope Francis’s remarks are not revolutionary- and do not even come close! But the Holy Father was clearly signalling a new mode of engagement on the issue. Pope Francis, a widely admired spiritual leader, is trying to find a way to speak of homosexuality and homosexuals that reflects the Church’s moral homosexuality reality and the respect that all human beings are due.
Homosexuality is no more an issue only for Europe and North America. The challenges are everywhere - even in Africa where the practice is strange, covert and inadmissible. Not long ago, the Bishops of Cameroon addressed the issue in no uncertain terms. “We the Bishops of Cameroon, reiterate our disapproval of homosexuality and homosexual unions. On this subject we call on all believers and people of goodwill to reject homosexuality and the so-called “gay marriages” and to accompany those who are inclined towards homosexuality and homosexuals by means of prayer, spiritual follow up and compassion, in view of their conversion.”
There could be no better message identical to the Pope’s than this. The message is: Bold Truth and Engaging Love. We need them both and the world will always need the Church and Pope to send this message to a culture that seems hell-bound and that treads the path of perdition and self-destruction.
Speaking from the vantage point of the rich African culture, the Cameroon bench of Bishops affirms that “Homosexuality falsifies human anthropology and trivialises sexuality, marriage and family as the foundation of society. In the African culture, homosexuality is not part of the family and social values. It is a flagrant violation of the legacy which our ancestors, faithful to heterosexuality and the family, have handed down to us.”
Yet, the biggest difficulty about this controversy is where to nip the evil. It is here that Pope Francis’ genius comes to light. He brilliantly points out that rather than focusing our attention on homosexuals, who we should treat with compassion, “a gay lobby” is at the root of the problem.
These lobbyists are a moneyed aristocracy - the agents of a neo-paganism who seek to redefine sexual ethics so that being “gay is okay.” It is a “dictatorship of relativism” masterminded by a conspiracy of organisations like the International Lesbian and Gay Organisation, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, IPPF, CAMNAFAW and many other NGOs, supported by several western multinationals, and promoted by some western leaders and international organisations to ruin the moral and spiritual life of an impoverished and suffering continent.
Thoughtful Africans must therefore realise the consequences of this to future generations. The result in Africa has been the Cairo and Beijing UN Conferences, the Maputo Protocol and the pressure being put on African governments to ratify this spurious ideology. Civilisations meet and even merge, but never before has the impact of such an ideological dictatorship been experienced on the African continent than now.
No African son or daughter who cares about the future of the continent’s children should wave the issue aside. It therefore rests on the shoulders of modern African theologians, intellectuals, and scientists to combat these infamous forces to regain the soul of Africa; for only with this commitment, dedication and, most importantly, the Saving Word of Jesus Christ through His Holy Church, can we be redeemed from the wild seductions of this western apostasy invading and decimating entire peoples.