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CBCN Clarifies Pope’s Statement: No Change in Catholic Teaching on Marriage

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The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has recently addressed the confusion surrounding the Pope’s recent pronouncement on same-sex marriage, confirming that it does not alter the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on the sacrament of marriage.

In a detailed statement by CBCN President Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji and Secretary Bishop Donatus Ogun, issued in Abuja, the bishops clarified that the Pope’s declaration primarily focuses on the types of blessings permissible within the Church, including the potential for blessing individuals in irregular unions.

According to a report by The Guardian, the bishops emphasized that the Catholic Church’s doctrine on marriage remains unchanged, reiterating its stance that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions or activities as they contravene divine law, Church teachings, Nigerian laws, and local cultural values.

The CBCN’s statement explained that the Pope’s Declaration acknowledges the distinction between ritual, liturgical, and informal blessings. “While ritual or liturgical blessings follow the Church’s established norms, informal blessings involve prayers for individuals requesting them outside of formal liturgical settings,” they noted.

The bishops expanded on the scope of such informal blessings, which could extend to various groups, including divorced and remarried couples without annulment, same-sex couples, individuals in polygamous unions, and those in concubinage, among others. The Declaration suggests the possibility of extending informal blessings to all seeking God’s grace, regardless of their moral standing.

However, the bishops underscored that any blessing of individuals in irregular unions should take a non-liturgical form to prevent misconceptions. This blessing should not be associated with civil wedding ceremonies or symbols of matrimony to avoid confusion.

The CBCN reiterated the Church’s definition of marriage as “an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to procreation.” The Declaration reinforces the Church’s inability to bless irregular unions, aligning with this definition.

Furthermore, the bishops highlighted the Declaration’s emphasis on God’s mercy, encouraging those in irregular unions to seek God’s grace and remain hopeful for conversion.

The CBCN concluded by thanking priests for their support of married couples and urging them to continue upholding the sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony.

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