Papal Nuncio Responds to American’s Concern About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Archbishop Michael Blume

After learning the terrible news last week that the Ugandan Parliament passed a bill imposing heavy penalties, including life imprisonment, on anyone convicted of homosexual activity, a New Ways Ministry friend wrote to the papal nuncio (Vatican’s representative) to that nation.

On December 21st, Brother Brian McLauchlin sent an email to Archbishop Michael Blume, asking him to speak with the Ugandan bishops and Pope Francis about this abuse of human rights.  McLauchlin received a positive response from Blume the same  day, assuring him that his office is concerned about the situation, and that he would be working with Uganda’s Catholic bishops on the matter.

Blume’s message discusses the confusion which exists in Uganda about the bill:

“It was only this morning that I found out about the action of the Parliament. In fact the whole business caught many of us, including the bishops’ conference, by surprise as there had been no hints of it in the press nor on the site of the Parliament, which indicates legislation being discussed. The bill had been put on hold last February and seemed forgotten, but … You can view some articles on it from the government press (www.newvision.co.ug) and the opposition (www.monitor.co.ug). That the Prime Minister speaks about further consultation needed is something important to note. The Monitor also points out a problem of the quorum at the session that passed the law — without clearly stating whether it existed or not.”

Blume also noted that the Ugandan bishops had spoken out against an earlier version of this bill in 2009:

The bishops had pronounced on the bill already in 2009. Here’s just the paragraph that is a kind of résumé:

“The recent tabled Anti-Homosexuality Bill does not pass a test of a Christian caring approach to this issue. The targeting of the sinner, not the sin, is the core flaw of the proposed Bill. The introduction of the death penalty and imprisonment for homosexual acts targets people rather than seeking to counsel and to reach out in compassion to those who need conversion, repentance, support, and hope. The Bible says in Luke 6:36-37 ‘Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.’     (complete statement at http://www.uecon.org/Publication.html , towards the bottom of the page).”

The papal nuncio also noted that he would be working with the bishops as they comment on the bill:

“It’s the general policy for nuncios to work together with the bishops conferences on questions of national interest. For that reason I was already in contact with the Secretary General this morning. . . . I’m sure there will be a lot of movement between the bishops’ conference and various institutions of the country. The bill will die if the President does not sign it within thirty days. We pray the Holy Spirit to give him wisdom.”

McLauchlin’s letter to the nuncio follows:

“Your Excellency:

“I am writing to you about a grave matter in terms of human rights abuses towards LGBT persons in Uganda. As you are probably aware, Uganda’s Parliament recently passed a bill calling for tougher punishments for homosexual acts, including life
imprisonment for those considered ‘repeat offenders.’ In addition, this bill also criminalizes the public promotion of homosexuality. Once the President of Uganda signs the legislation, it will become law.

“I am gravely concerned that a number of human rights violations will occur if the President signs this bill. Although the
Catholic Hierarchy may not approve of same-sex relationships or a homosexual lifestyle, I believe the Hierarchy would agree
that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Imprisoning someone for life would clearly constitute
an abuse of his/her rights.

“The largest single denomination in Uganda is Roman Catholic. I ask that you use your influence as Papal Nuncio to get the bishops to speak out against this bill. When you speak with Pope Francis please inform him of this situation. I do believe he would want to see the dignity and respect of all people honored and kept sacred.

“I sincerely thank you for your attention to this important matter.”

Last week, when Bondings 2.0 reported the Ugandan news, we asked our readers to write to Pope Francis asking him to speak out against this bill.   We repeat that request now, and we also encourage readers to write to the Archbishop Blume.    His address is:

Archbishop Michael Blume
Apostolic Nunciature
P.O. Box 7177
Chwa II Road, Mbuya Hill
Kampala, UGANDA

email: nuntius@infocom.co.ug

It is so important to write  letters to both the pope and the papal nuncio.  Although Archbishop Blume is optimistic about working with the Ugandan bishops on this matter, it is very important that the pope and the nuncio hear from Catholics.  Though the Ugandan bishops spoke out against the bill in 2009, and although the portion quoted above is hopeful, the rest of their statement presents a very negative attitude toward homosexuality. Last year, there was a report that the bishops had reversed their opposition to the bill, though, because they have not spoken about it clearly, it is difficult to know where they stand currently.  It is hopeful that the papal nuncio supports their 2009 opposition to the bill, an indication that he may feel the same way.   Still, because the Ugandan bishops’ current position is unclear, it’s important that the pope and the papal nuncio hear from Catholics that they want church teaching on human dignity and respect to be upheld in this matter.

New Ways Ministry applauds Brian McLauchlin for his swift, passionate, and courageous correspondence.  We are so proud of his witness. We hope that many of you will use his letter as a model or will craft one of your own to send.  Lesbian and gay Ugandans are counting on us at this time to speak courageously and forthrightly.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

18 Responses to Papal Nuncio Responds to American’s Concern About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

  1. Friends says:

    THESE are situations in which POPE FRANCIS himself needs to get directly involved with a vigorous statement of spiritual affirmation and support for gay Catholics in Africa — as does Anglican Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, who has always supported a broad spectrum of basic human rights in Africa. Their voices are sorely needed against this horrible atrocity, and their outcry could make a huge difference in the global response to this pogrom, which is EXACTLY what it is.

  2. will says:

    It has to be pointed out that one of the prime movers behind this bill was the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga. She was involved in the plot to suddenly bring up the legislation for a vote at a time not previously published – and with notice only given to those who supported it. There is considerable doubt as to whether the vote satisfied quorum rules – or would even have passed if all MPs were present.

    Ms Kadaga is a Catholic and last year was personally received by Pope Benedict in the Vatican. A year ago she had promised to get the bill passed as a Christmas present for 2012 – which she failed to do and she received some ridicule for that failure. Surely someone should have word with her?

    And the Catholic Archbishop of Uganda, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, signed up to a resolution at the Uganda Joint Christian Council in June 2012 which asked Parliament to speed-up the process of enacting the Anti-Homosexuality law to prevent what they called “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage.” (He had previously written of his misgivings about the bill in 2009 but seems to have changed his mind.)

    Many of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda are terrified at the moment. Pope Francis (and ALL of the Catholic Hierarchy in Uganda) should be speaking out to protect their basic dignity. (Luke, 10:29-37)

  3. […] week, Bondings 2.0 featured a letter from Brother Brian McLauchlin to Uganda’s papal nuncio asking him to work against the bill that would criminalize being gay. Will you join us in […]

  4. […] in another faith community, contact a leader in your tradition and make this request of them. This link offers a cautiously hopeful angle on a contact to the Pope’s representative in […]

  5. […] all LGBTI people are respected in Uganda and globally. We look forward to joining our voices with other people of faith to ensure the safety and well-being of all […]

  6. […] to New Ways Ministry, Archbishop Michael Blume, the papal nuncio (representative) to Uganda, has written that he hopes […]

  7. […] we witness more nations moving towards harsh criminal penalties for homosexuality as with Uganda and India in recent weeks. Click here to take action on the “path to love” that Pope […]

  8. […] Papal Nuncio Responds to American’s Concern About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill (Bondings 2.0/New Ways) […]

  9. […] Papal Nuncio Responds to American’s Concern About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill (Bondings 2.0/New Ways) […]

  10. […] campaign so that the pontiff hears from people from all over.  We are heartened by the fact that the papal nuncio in Uganda was pre-disposed to reject that nation’s anti-gay bill and that Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the […]

  11. […] papal nuncio from Brother Brian McLauchlin, a New Ways Ministry volunteer, received a positive reply that the nuncio would be working to halt any anti-gay law alongside Uganda’s bishops. Most […]

  12. […] 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 […]

  13. […] lokalnym episkopatom. Niemniej nadzieję na zdecydowaną reakcję Watykanu dawać może m.in. grudniowa korespondencja nuncjusza ugandyjskiego abp. Michaela Blume’a z br. Brianem McLauchlinem SVD, w której hierarcha […]

  14. […] Figures like Jesuit Fr. James Martin former US ambassador to the Vatican Thomas Melady, and the papal nuncio to Uganda have all condemned the law, as well as organizations like the Equally Blessed coalition  and the […]

  15. […] Figures like Jesuit Fr. James Martin former US ambassador to the Vatican Thomas Melady, and the papal nuncio to Uganda have all condemned the law, as well as organizations like theEqually Blessed coalition  and […]

  16. […] P. James Martí n el ex embajador de Estados Unidos ante el Vaticano  Thomas Melady , y el nuncio papal en Uganda  todos han condenado la ley, así como organizaciones como el Igualmente Santísima  de la […]

  17. […] Papal Nuncio Responds to American’s Concern About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill (Bondings 2.0/New Ways) […]

  18. […] Papal Nuncio Responds to American’s Concern About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill (Bondings 2.0/New Ways) […]

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