One of the bishops representing the African continent at the Vatican synod on young people said the meeting risks being hijacked by Western concerns about LGBT issues, which is “not why the synod was called.”
The question of homosexuality “has been raised quite a lot, and I think it’s a hot issue of the synod,” said Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Mamfe, Cameroon, but the African bishops “are resisting it very strongly.”
In an interview with Vatican journalist Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Bishop Fuanya said some bishops are taking some “very fluid positions” so the media will praise them, instead of standing by the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The problem of homosexuality and gender identity “is not an issue” in Africa, Fuanya said. “If I go back to Cameroon and I announce that: ‘We have to do pastoral care for LGBT,’ 99 percent of the youth will ask me, ‘what’s that?’”
“So, let us not legitimize something in the Church which is not a universal problem,” he said.
“The Church must not shy away from the truth. Whether it pleases the youth, or it pleases journalists, or it pleases the powers that be, the Church should never shy away from the truth. And this is my strong point,” he said.
Bishop Fuanya said that he spoke for all the African bishops in saying that they would resist pressure to insert LGBT language into the official texts that come out of the synod.
“I don’t think any bishop of Africa will vote any article that has LGBT,” Fuanya said. “We will not vote for it.”
The bishop also related that in his synod discussion group, they said, “If you want to talk about homosexuality, refer to this number of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
Fuanya said that what youth really need is clear teaching and not fuzzy language that introduces doubts regarding church teaching.
“I come from a culture where tradition is handed down from one generation to another undiluted, uncontaminated,” he said. “And therefore, the youth get very confused when the adults speak with ambiguous language. They want to be clear.”
“This matter of diluting the truth won’t go down in Africa,” the bishop continued. “Once we speak ambiguous language, the youth get confused and they go astray. We should make sure that it is the truth that we are handing down, otherwise the synod will produce more confused youth than youth who are getting involved in church life.”
As shepherds to the faithful, bishops should be true to Jesus Christ and sound Christian teaching, Fuanya said, rather than caving to pressure from secular society to water down the Christian message.
“I am scared of one thing, especially with regard to the Church in the West,” he said. “It looks like practically each bishop is very sensitive to what the media is saying about him in the synod. And in this way, they don’t want to make enemies before going back home.”
Because of this, they end up taking “some very fluid positions so that they can be applauded by media,” he said.
“We came here to look at what the truth of the Gospel is,” he added. “So, if we have to compromise the truth, then the synod had no use, we didn’t need to come here.”
Citing a fellow bishop who said that the synod’s instrumentum laboris (working document) “is like a seed that has to die so that the final document can germinate and grow,” Fuanya said, “So we are all hoping that the instrumentum laboris will die.”
In this, Bishop Fuanya echoed the sentiments of other bishops who have voiced criticisms of the guiding document for synod discussions.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, for instance, said the text is long on sociological data and short on Christian content.
The synod’s instrumentum laboris “is a collection of dense social science data with very little evangelical zeal,” the archbishop told Polish journalist Adam Sosnowski in an interview last week.
“‘LGBT’ should never be used in a Church document to describe people,” Chaput said. “The Church has never identified persons by their sexual appetites, or reduced them to their sexual inclinations.”
“‘LGBT’ may be acceptable in describing issues, but not people,” he said.
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