The Brazilian bishop who took the first step toward the Catholic Church embracing LGBTQ+ people

— The prelate of the diocese of Santo Amaro, in São Paulo, Brazil, submitted the consultation to the Vatican. That inquiry led to the authorization to baptize the LGBTQ+ faithful, who can also be godparents and witnesses to a wedding

Bishop José Negri (left, with miter and crosier) in São Paulo, Brazil on January 24.

By Naiara Galarraga Gortázar

The next lesbian, gay, or transgender person to be the godparent of a baby baptized in a Catholic parish, or in a cathedral, in any corner of the world, may not know what led him or her to assume that crucial responsibility in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. But the process began in Brazil, in the office of a bishop in São Paulo. Specifically, it started with a letter with six questions addressed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and signed by Bishop José Negri, of the diocese of Santo Amaro, in the southern part of Latin America’s most populous city. The Holy See received the letter on July 14 and responded almost four months later with a decision signed by Pope Francis. The news was made public at the beginning of November. In summary, trans Catholics can be baptized, but it is not a right and requires avoiding disconcerting believers and public scandal. A same-sex couple’s children can receive the same sacrament as long as there is a well-founded hope that they will be educated in the Catholic faith. They can all serve as witnesses for a wedding.

Bishop Negri raised the six questions clearly and directly. The first question: “Can a trans person be baptized?” The fourth inquiry: “Can a same-sex couple appear as the progenitors of a child to be baptized if he or she was adopted or conceived through other methods, such as surrogacy?” The response from the body that deals with the Church’s doctrinal and theological questions — the former Inquisition — was also concise in its three-page answer, which included multiple footnotes. The Brazilian prelate declined this newspaper’s request to be interviewed about his consultation and its consequences.

The decision on whether LGBTQ+ Catholics can receive some sacraments has caused less of a stir than another of the Pontiff’s rulings (unrelated to Negri)—this one announced in December—which deepens his policy of the institution’s openness. The Vatican approved the blessing of same-sex couples, but, importantly, without equating it to marriage. The decision has even caused a small rebellion on the part of Peru’s clergy.

The diocesan prelate, known here as Dom José, was born in Milan, Italy, as Giuseppe, but he has lived in Brazil since his 20s. He has a degree in Psychology from the Gregorian University in Rome. He has a slight Italian accent, is 64 years old and boasts 132,000 Instagram followers, almost ten times more than the diocese he leads. The publications from the day last November when the Vatican announced its response to his query do not refer to the matter.

But, like Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Negri is in favor of the Catholic hierarchy “listening to the peripheries,” be they urban, social or economic. Previously, he was bishop in Blumenau, in the whitest part of Brazil, a land colonized by German immigrants who preserve the language and even celebrate Oktoberfest. A few years ago, he chaired the Brazilian Episcopal Conference’s child protection committee; at the time, he pledged that the Church would firmly confront the sexual abuse in its midst.

The bishop of Santo Amaro “is on the most conservative spectrum” of the Church in Brazil and “is prudent as a bishop,” explains Paulo Ricardo, of the (Instituto de Estudos da Religião) Institute of Religious Studies. The diocese over which he presides includes some two million Catholics and owes its fame to Father Marcelo Rossi, of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, which was a true mass phenomenon in the 1990s thanks to his records, a Latin Grammy, show masses and modern methods of evangelization.

The fact that this consultation on LGBTQ+ people reached the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from Brazil is not so surprising if one considers that the South American country is one of the nations where the Catholic Church has more faithful, although the group is dwindling in the face of a strong push by

evangelicals. Same-sex marriage has been legal for over a decade. Fifteen years have passed since the public health system performed the first gender-affirming procedure. And while Brazil is the country where the most trans people are murdered (among those countries that record such crimes), they are also represented in many areas of society and have tremendous visibility. Indeed, there are two trans deputies in Brazil’s national congress and another two in state legislatures.

obispo José Negri
Bishop José Negri (right) last Wednesday.

Luis Rabello, 35, the executive secretary of the Brazilian network of LGBTQ+ Catholic groups, welcomes the changes introduced by Pope Francis because “they serve to give visibility” to a group that “has always existed in the Church, both among the faithful and as catechists.” He is happy that the Vatican has finally adopted norms to resolve issues that until now have been handled on a case-by-case basis. On the phone from Brasilia, he recalls a case from a few years ago: a trans woman who had undergone gender-affirming surgery requested that her dead name — the name on her birth certificate — be replaced by her new one on her baptismal certificate. She got her wish. It happened in Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil.

The representative of LGBTQ+ Catholics in Brazil maintains that Bishop Negri’s questions for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responds to a social demand. “LGBTQ+ people are demanding more space in the Church; they are demanding respect.” He explains that it is a trend that has grown in recent years with social changes and the LGBTQ+ community’s inspired by the current Pontiff’s gestures. Rabello notes that Pope Francis has received trans people in the Holy See. A civil servant by profession, he believes the recent Vatican rulings are “very important for educating priests, bishops…”

Brazil has about 20 LGBTQ+ Catholic groups spread over 10 states that meet in person, plus virtual ones, including one for non-binary people. A priest from the diocese of Santo Amaro, Father Negri’s diocese, monitors these groups, Rabello says.

Pope Francis has a very special place in the hearts of Brazilian LGBTQ+ Catholics for the answer he gave a Brazilian journalist in 2013 on the return flight from his visit to Brazil. “Francis spoke for the first time about LGBTQ+ people; [he was] the first pope to utter the word gay!” Rabello recalls. It was a revolution in an institution with two millennia of history. That gesture and the ones that followed encouraged the LGBTQ+ faithful to seek more information and to ask their parishes about baptism, marriage and being godparents for baptisms and weddings.

Last October, Bishop Negri spoke a little about his childhood during an interview with another priest — both in collars — during the so-called diocesan youth meeting. He recalled that his grandmother introduced him to the Church and taught him the Rosary (which she recited in Latin). “My ideal was to be an altar boy, but Jesus wanted something else,” he explained. The motto of that youthful encounter sounded provocative: “You seduced me, Lord, and I let myself be seduced.” Bishop Negri took advantage of the occasion to announce that he was organizing a big event “to evangelize en masse, in schools, in subway stations, at bus stops, in universities…”. The battle between Catholics and Evangelicals for the souls of over 200 million Brazilians is intense.

Complete Article HERE!

Washington state reintroduces child abuse reporting bill despite previous Catholic opposition

— State lawmakers hope a compromise in the proposed legislation will get Catholic lobbyists on board, a year after a similar bill died over the church’s backlash

The sun appears through cloudy skies Thursday, March 10, 2022, above the Legislative Building at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

By Wilson Criscione

After failing a year ago, Washington state lawmakers are trying again this session to pass a bill that would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect.

Senate Bill 6298 would add clergy to the list of mandatory reporters in Washington. And the bill’s main sponsor, state Sen. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, hopes a compromise regarding whether clergy should still report information obtained during a confession will be enough to win over Catholic lobbyists, who proved to be the main obstacle to passing the law last year.

“I cannot handle the idea that a member of a faith community, a leader in a faith community, would stand on the sidelines when they believe a child is at imminent risk of abuse or harm,” Frame said in a legislative committee hearing discussing the bill Thursday. “I really hope this is the middle path.”

Washington is now one of five states where clergy are not mandated reporters of child abuse or neglect, according to a federal agency that tracks such laws.

Both the state House and Senate passed versions of a bill last year that would change that. The chambers, however, couldn’t agree on whether clergy should still be obligated to report allegations if they learn the information during a religious confession. The House, in a bipartisan vote, passed a version without any exemption for confessions, but the Democrat-led Senate couldn’t agree to go that far.

Nationwide, of the 45 states in which clergy are mandated reporters, only seven states have removed that loophole.

Frame, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who introduced the bill last year after reading InvestigateWest’s reporting on sexual abuse cover-ups among Jehovah’s Witnesses, said she knew the 2023 bill was dead when the Washington State Catholic Conference wouldn’t agree to a last-minute compromise. In an interview this week, Frame said their opposition signaled to lawmakers who were religious — Catholic or not — that the bill would somehow violate one’s religious beliefs.

“They did not feel comfortable going against that signal, which is why I felt compelled to find agreement with the Catholic Conference,” Frame said. “Not because everybody here is Catholic, but because it was a proxy for other people with other faith traditions.”

SB 6298 would strike a similar compromise as the one Frame proposed late in the 2023 session. That compromise would have kept the exemption for confessions but create a “duty to warn” authorities — law enforcement or the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families — if clergy reasonably believed a child is at imminent risk of abuse or neglect, even if that belief comes from information obtained “wholly or in part” from a confession.

This year’s bill leaves out the word “wholly,” meaning clergy would not be obligated to either report suspected child abuse or warn authorities that a child may be in danger unless some of the information that raised concerns was obtained outside a confessional setting.

“It’s a slight modification, but a meaningful one,” Frame said.

It may not be meaningful enough for the Roman Catholic Church. Jean Hill, executive director of the Washington State Catholic Conference, tells InvestigateWest, “We believe our clergy are mandatory reporters,” except regarding information obtained in a sacramental confession. The section of the bill requiring a duty to warn based on information even partially obtained through a confession, she said, “could require breaking the seal of confession,” adding that it “raises significant First Amendment concerns for us.”

In Thursday’s hearing, Hill said the Catholic Conference supports the motivation behind the bill, but reiterated that she was still concerned it could require priests to break the seal of confession if they are called to a courtroom to testify what led to their belief a child was in danger. Frame clarified that nothing in this bill changes a different part of state law that exempts clergy from having to testify in court.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers, sexual abuse survivors and activists wish the bill didn’t include a loophole for confessions at all.

Tim Law, co-founder of a nonprofit called Ending Clergy Abuse that aims to protect children from sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic Church, spoke out against the bill, arguing the compromise is a “capitulation to the churches.”

“Clergy need to be mandatory reporters, without exception,” Law said.

Former Jehovah’s Witnesses who left the religion over their concerns with sexual abuse cover-ups say that clergy may exploit a confession exception to hide allegations because the church has a broader definition of sacred communications.

InvestigateWest previously reported on several examples since the 1970s in which Jehovah’s Witness elders kept child sexual abuse allegations hidden from authorities even when the information had been presented to multiple church leaders. Today, that remains legal under Washington state law.

Frame, however, said that the definition of the confession exemption is narrow enough in this year’s bill to address those concerns. The bill only exempts abuse or neglect allegations shared with clergy if they’re spoken privately to an individual member of the clergy, intended to be a confidential “act of contrition or a matter of conscience,” and done in a setting in which clergy are “specifically and strictly under a level of confidentiality that is considered inviolate by religious doctrine of the member of the clergy.” If the same allegations are also shared outside a confessional setting, the exemption does not apply.

On Thursday, two former Jehovah’s Witnesses who have spoken out against sexual abuse cover-ups within the church said they supported the bill, even if confessions remained exempt from reporting requirements.

Frame said she remains personally opposed to any confession exemption. But she said she’d rather find a middle ground than not have clergy listed as mandatory reporters at all.

“I’m wildly uncomfortable with this,” Frame said. “But I am doing it because survivors are asking me to not let perfect be the enemy of good.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis says sexual pleasure ‘a gift from God’

Pope Francis presides over the funeral of Italian Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani at the altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, on January 17, 2024.

By Laura Gozzi

Pope Francis has said that sexual pleasure is “a gift from God” that should be “disciplined with patience.”

He also warned against pornography, which he said brought “satisfaction without relationship” and could lead to addiction.

The pope was speaking at his general audience in the Vatican on Wednesday.

The address, part of a series of sermons on vices and virtues, focused on what the pope called “the demon of lust”.

The pontiff said that lust “devastates relationships between people” and added that “daily news is enough to document this reality”.

“How many relationships that started out in the best way have later become toxic relationships?” he asked.

The pope made the comments days after his new head of doctrine, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, came under fire for a book he wrote and published in the late 1990s entitled Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality.

The book, which is now out of print, discussed human sexuality and provided detailed descriptions of male and female experiences during orgasms. Speaking to Catholic online publication Crux, Cardinal Fernández said he wrote the book when he was still young and he “certainly would not” write it now.

Conservative commentators have called the book “perverse”, with one saying it showed Cardinal Fernández was “unfit” to be prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This is not the first time Pope Francis or Cardinal Fernández have drawn the ire of conservative members of the Catholic community.

In December, Cardinal Fernández introduced a text, later approved by Pope Francis, detailing guidelines allowing priests to bless same-sex couples relationships that were still considered sinful.

Although Cardinal Fernández did emphasise that the stance did not validate the status of same-sex couples in the eyes of the Catholic Church, for many conservatives the damage was done.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who was the church’s head of doctrine under Pope Benedict XVI, firmly denounced the Vatican’s document. In a lengthy response posted online, Cardinal Müller said that a priest blessing a homosexual union would be committing a “sacrilegious and blasphemous act”.

“According to the criterion of this type of blessings, one could even bless an abortion clinic or a mafia group,” Cardinal Müller said.

Prelates around the world also released statements condemning the decision, including American conservatives, who have long been vocal in opposing the pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

Tensions reached a nadir when the pope evicted outspoken critic US Cardinal Raymond Burke from his Vatican apartment and revoked his salary.

Complete Article HERE!

A pedophile priest. A $10-million payout.

— A monster who won’t leave my life

Lawyers John Manly, left, and Morgan Stewart, who have represented sex-abuse survivors for over 20 years, at their law offices in Irvine.

By Gustavo Arellano

Most reporters have covered a story so disturbing that they never want to think about it again — yet the evil subject makes it impossible to ever forget.

My cross to bear is Father Eleuterio Ramos.

The Montebello native terrorized Catholic parishes in Orange and Los Angeles counties during the 1970s and 1980s, once admitting to detectives that he had molested “at least” 25 boys. Church officials knew about Ramos’ depravity almost from the beginning of his career, yet never turned him over to law enforcement or even removed him from the ministry. Instead, they moved him from parish to parish until the Diocese of Orange asked the Diocese of Tijuana in 1985 to accept him — after he confessed to having “slipped,” according to a church memo.

The Orange diocese settled five sex abuse lawsuits against Ramos during the 1990s. Eleven lawsuits were still pending when Ramos died 20 years ago this March at age 65. I was a young reporter at the time. The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was my first big story — and Ramos was my Moby Dick.

I interviewed many of his victims, shared tips and photos with the lawyers who were trying to find his whereabouts just like I was, and read through hundreds of pages of once-secret personnel files. They revealed in excruciating detail not just Ramos’ sex crimes but the sin of silence practiced by his superiors. He was the subject of the longest story of my career — over 10,000 words — in late 2005 and dozens of articles in the years that followed.

Yet long after my regular coverage petered out, Ramos remains in my life.

He’s there every time I attend a baptism, wedding or funeral at St. Anthony Claret in Anaheim, a church frequented by people from my ancestral ranchos in Zacatecas that is the last O.C. parish where Ramos served. Every couple of years, a Ramos victim finds my work on their molester and reaches out to thank me. Any time I’ve had an urge to return to the Catholic Church, I remember why I stopped attending Mass in the first place: my disgust at the local bishops and monsignors who let Ramos molest with impunity.

Ramos has cast such a specter over me that when I received a text from attorney John Manly that his firm had reached a large settlement in a clerical sex abuse case, I immediately guessed who the perpetrator was.

The plaintiff alleged that Ramos and another priest, Siegfried Widera, molested him while he attended Immaculate Heart of Mary in Santa Ana during the 1970s and 1980s. Church leaders in Orange and Los Angeles counties did nothing to stop the abuse, despite repeated warnings from parishioners, staff and even a fellow priest, the lawsuit alleged.

The $10-million settlement, finalized in December, requires the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where Ramos began his career and which had jurisdiction over Catholic churches in Orange County until 1976, to pay $500,000. The Orange diocese will cover the other $9.5 million.

Through Manly, the plaintiff declined to speak to me. The Times does not identify victims of sexual abuse without their consent.

In a statement, spokesperson Jarryd Gonzales said that the Orange diocese “deeply regrets any past incidences of sexual abuse,” adding that “the allegations in this case date back more than 40 years and do not reflect the Diocese of Orange as it stands today.”

Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokesperson Yannina Diaz said she couldn’t comment on the terms of the settlement, which was finalized in December. The archdiocese “stands against any sexual misconduct and is resolute in our support for victim-survivors of abuse regardless of when the abuse occurred,” she said.

The recent settlement is Manly, Stewart & Finaldi’s largest involving an individual plaintiff in a sex abuse case against the Catholic church and one of nearly 4,000 cases filed against Catholic dioceses across California under a 2020 state law that opened a three-year window for sex abuse victims to sue, with no statute of limitations. Manly, who with his law partner, Morgan Stewart, has spent nearly the past quarter-century suing the Catholic Church in California and beyond, is handling over 200 of those cases, 25 of them against the Orange diocese.

Nine of the lawsuits name Ramos.

An attorney accompanied by female clients.
Attorney John Manly, left, announces a nine-figure settlement in the cases of former patients of longtime UCLA gynecologist/oncologist James Heaps in 2022.

I recently visited Manly and Stewart at their law offices, which take up the eighth floor of an Irvine high-rise. The lobby and conference room feature newspaper and magazine clippings from a career pursuing some of the most notorious sex abuse cover ups of this century. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Miramonte Elementary in South L.A. The Boy Scouts. Gynecologists at USC and UCLA. USA Gymnastics.

Thousands of clients. Over $1.5 billion in settlements.

Manly and Stewart sat at opposite ends of a huge table along with Courtney Thom, a former Orange County sex crimes prosecutor who joined their firm three years ago. I’ve known the two men for 20 years now, and they really haven’t changed. Manly remains the loud one with a wicked sense of humor and the bluster of a defensive line coach, while Stewart is still the quiet-yet-forceful voice of reason.

We exchanged our usual pleasantries, then got down to the business that seemed to reunite us every couple of years.

“I’m up to 62 [Ramos] victims,” Stewart said. “Every f— place that had a school, they placed him there.”

“You have all these connecting pieces, and church leaders didn’t do anything,” Manly interjected. Then he threw his hands over his head. “Well, they did worse than that. They actively concealed.”

Manly first heard about Ramos in the late 1990s, when he was deposing then-Orange Bishop Norman McFarland — who presided over my First Communion — in another sex abuse case. At one point, McFarland named one of Ramos’ victims, a friend of Manly who had graduated alongside him at Mater Dei but never told him about the abuse.

Manly asked for a break. He went to the bathroom and vomited.

“That event is the reason I stopped going to Mass,” he said.

In late 2004, his firm settled five Ramos cases against the Orange diocese as part of a $100-million settlement involving 87 victims — at the time, the largest settlement against a Catholic diocese in the U.S. They moved on to other cases, but Ramos’ pervasiveness and perversity haunted the two.

“He’s a case study of how to molest boys,” said Stewart.

“The thing about Ramos is that he’s so relentless at what he did, and so blatant,” Manly added. “He never stopped hiding things at all.”

Lawyer Morgan Stewart
Morgan Stewart, pictured, and John Manly have represented sex-abuse survivors for over 20 years at their law offices in Irvine. Their firm currently has over 200 cases against the Catholic dioceses of Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Taking on more Ramos cases allowed Stewart to find new evidence of how far church officials went to cover up for the priest. Personnel files showed that the Orange diocese removed Ramos from Immaculate Heart of Mary and sent him to a Massachusetts recovery facility for Catholic priests — for alleged alcoholism. Stewart got a sworn affidavit from Ramos’ counselor at the facility, who said she had recommended that he not return to the ministry.

“If you know anything about Ramos, you know the depth of hurt he caused,” Manly exclaimed, his angry voice ringing in the conference room. Stewart and Thom nodded. “So why did they keep him? People kept threatening to call the police. There’s all this reporting, and nothing.”

I, too, found new connections going through my Ramos files. I once uncovered a 1975 Archdiocese of Los Angeles memo addressed to a Monsignor Hawkes, recommending that Ramos enter psychological care at the suggestion of “the district attorney as a result of a recent incident.”

Reading it again, I realized who the monsignor was: Benjamin Hawkes, long one of the most powerful men in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and someone who church officials concluded had molested boys and settled with two of his victims.

Ramos remains the gift that keeps on giving — gifts no one should ever want to receive.

After speaking to them for about an hour, I asked Manly and Stewart if going after monsters like Ramos ever weighed on them.

“What am I going to do?” Manly deadpanned. “Sell hot dogs?” Then he got serious.

“For 25 years, I’ve made close friends, and I think our work has changed the world.” Going after sex abuses “was my vocation,” Manly said.

“I don’t intend to stop,” Stewart added. “I spoke to 10 survivors this morning. What keeps me going is every one of those expressed their gratitude. They’ll say, ‘When I see your name in the paper, I say, ‘I’m proud you’re my lawyer.’ You see these people that need a voice, and you give it to them.”

“I wreck every cocktail party when I tell them what I do,” Manly cracked, unable to resist another joke, because that’s the type of guy he is. Then he grew quiet.

“But like the saying goes, you want to be on the side of the angels.”

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic clergy in Uganda accuse the West of a new colonialism through LGBTQ activism

— Most Ugandan Catholics oppose Pope Francis’ recent move to allow priests to administer blessings to same-sex couples.

A nun reflects during a solemn moment as Pope Francis leads a Holy Mass for the Martyrs of Uganda at the area of the Catholic Sanctuary in the Namugongo area of Kampala, Uganda, on Nov. 28, 2015.


Gilbert Lubega sat in a white plastic chair at his home in Wakiso, a suburb of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, contemplating two photos of a young gay female couple kissing and another one of a male gay couple kissing at their wedding ceremony.

“These images make me think the world is coming to an end,” he said. “They are things you can’t imagine happening, and people blindly support them.”

The 55-year-old father of six, who owns a food kiosk in Wakiso, blamed the West for invading his culture and destroying its values. He believes foreign governments are sponsoring LGBTQ people and their activities in the country.

“The people who call themselves LGBTQ activists are now recruiting many people, including our children,” Lubega said. “They don’t know what they are doing, but they are destroying people’s lives by engaging them in unethical activities. The West want to make our country Sodom and Gomorrah, and we won’t accept it.”

Uganda, in red, located in eastern Africa. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Uganda, in red, located in eastern Africa.

Last year in May, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a measure calling for life imprisonment for anyone convicted of same-sex activity. The law also calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which involves cases of same-sex relations involving people who are HIV positive, children and other vulnerable people.

Many LGBTQ Ugandans have since fled to neighboring countries to escape homophobia.

Lubega, who wants the government to ban LGBTQ rights groups, is a staunch Catholic, and like many of his co-religionists opposes Pope Francis’ recent move to allow priests to administer blessings to same-sex couples. The organization of Catholic bishops in Africa and Madagascar stated earlier this month that they will refuse to follow Francis’ declaration.

The bishop of Lira Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Sanctus Lino Wanok, has launched a campaign against all forms of LGBTQ identity or activism in northern Uganda, calling LGBTQ advocates to repent and seek God’s blessings.

“It’s shameful to see some people promoting sin and luring people to join in committing sin,” Wanok told RNS. “People must not accept homosexuality because it’s a mockery of God, our creator.”

They are among the religious leaders, government officials and some rights group activists who have blamed the West for promoting LGBTQ acceptance in the country, saying the activities have recently increased with pro-gay activists targeting school-going children.

A Catholic LGBTQ activist who asked for anonymity for his safety praised Francis’ declaration permitting priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples. However, he said the pope approval has only prompted the government and citizens to increase attacks on their members.

He said families have disowned LGBTQ members, churches have given strict instructions not to allow them in the church’s compounds, landlords have evicted them and some have lost jobs.

“We live in fear because we cannot identify as gay, lesbian or transgender,” said the activist. “Pope Francis should give clear instructions to bishops and priests to allow LGBTQ members to worship God and nourish their spirits.”

The Western world has for years called on African governments to give LGBTQ people equal rights by decriminalizing same-sex sexual acts and protecting their rights.

In June last year, the United States imposed visa restrictions on dozens of Uganda officials in response to the country’s anti-gay laws.

“As Africans, we should be very careful and not accept everything white people tell us,” warned catechist Charles Kiwuwa from the Archdiocese of Tororo in the eastern region of Uganda in an interview with RNS. “They have told us that polygamy is a sin because they know most Africans embrace it and that homosexuality is righteousness because we disagree.”

The Catholic leaders have begun a countrywide campaign to fight “agents of homosexuality” in the country who they believe are being supported by foreign governments to spread LGBTQ activism in schools and other institutions. The church leaders have expressed concern over increasing cases of same-sex attraction among the youth and school-going children, accusing these agents of luring school children with money and other luxurious gifts to recruit them.

“As a church, we have decided to fight homosexuality to save our children and the country from collapsing because the Bible teaches us that homosexuality is evil, as read in Genesis Chapters 18 and 19,” the Rev. Richard Nyombi told RNS.

Nyombi, the parish priest of Mapeera Nabulagala in Kampala, said religious leaders had fought same-sex attraction from time immemorial, both in the Bible and today, and they are unwilling to allow foreign culture to influence the country.

“We are preaching against homosexuality during Mass and other gatherings to help our brothers and sisters not fall prey to the vice and for those who have already been lured into the practice to repent and follow God’s way,” he said.

Many Ugandan LGBTQ refugees at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya are seeking safety after escaping homophobic attacks in Uganda. Refugees demonstrate at the UNHCR refugee camp in northwest Kenya on Nov. 23, 2022. (RNS photo/Tonny Onyulo)
Many Ugandan LGBTQ refugees at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya are seeking safety after escaping homophobic attacks in Uganda. Refugees demonstrate at the UNHCR refugee camp in northwest Kenya on Nov. 23, 2022.

Church leaders have been meeting with youth, parents, children, elders and government officers in an effort to curb the spread of “immoral” behavior among people, especially children. The leaders have also been advising parents during Masses and other gatherings to warn their children against same-sex attraction and to urge them to be content with what their parents have given them, so they are not tempted by money.

“We have started to sensitize children in schools and homes against the vice of homosexuality,” said the Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier Kikomeko, the parish priest of Kisubi in Kampala, who also said they offer weekly workshops.

“We want to make children and parents aware that homosexuality is a sin, and pro-gay activists should never influence them to join LGTBQ groups because it’s evil and not accepted in the Bible.”

Complete Article HERE!