Over the past week or so there has been some good news and some bad news out of Africa concerning Catholic LGBT issues.
On the good news side, a papal envoy to Kenya recently called for the protection of lesbian and gay human rights on a visit to that nation to open a new pastoral center. Kenya’s The Star newspaper reports:
“The pope’s representative to Kenya Charles Daniel Balvo has asked Kenyans to accord homosexuals respect, dignity and human rights and not discriminate against them.
“Speaking after commissioning a Sh400 million pastoral centre at the Embu Catholic Cathedral in Embu town, Balvo said the Catholic Church does not approve of homosexuality but it recognises the dignity of every individual.
” ‘The homosexuals should be defended against violation of their dignity and human rights, they are human beings like anyone of us,’ he said.”
The newspaper article notes that these words from a papal envoy come soon after many African religious leaders criticized U.S. President Obama’s recent trip to Africa where he spoke in favor of LGBT human rights. A Religion News Service article quotes Obama as saying:
“My basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you … people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally.”
One of those religious leaders speaking against Obama was a cardinal from Kenya. London’s Tablet magazine reports:
“Kenyan Cardinal John Njue has issued a strongly worded riposte to US President Barack Obama’s call for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Africa.
“At the start of his three-nation African tour in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on 28 June, Mr Obama said gays deserved equal rights. Homosexual acts are illegal in 38 African nations.
“Speaking in Nairobi the next day, Njue, president of the Kenyan bishops’ conference, said Obama, whose father was Kenyan, should forget the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
” ‘Let him forget and forget and forget … I think we need to act according to our own traditions and our faiths,’ said Njue. ‘Those people who have already ruined their society … let them not become our teachers to tell us where to go.’ “
Obviously, Cardinal Njue is unaware that the Catholic faith’s most authoritative traditions are on the side of protecting LGBT human rights, as Archbishop Balvo stated. The Religion News Service article also quotes Anglican, Lutheran, and Muslim religious leaders who similarly condemned Obama’s intervention. The article also notes:
“Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African countries, according to the Washington-based Council for Global Equality, and many religious leaders here view it as contrary to scriptures and custom.”
Prominent among those nations is Zimbabwe, headed by Robert Mugabe, a Catholic, whose homophobic rants we reported on recently. On the campaign trail for re-election, he is continuing to spew anti-gay vitriol, some of which can be read here. For stories of the reality of gay lives under Zimbabwean terror, I refer you to the blog 76Crimes.com.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry