Catholics and Anglicans Support Sodomy: A Rejoinder

Sun, 12 Jun 2011 Source: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong

By Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Black Power)

I am writing in response to Mr Kwesi Pratt’s alleged statement that the Catholic and Anglican churches support same-sex relationships. I must admit that I did not personally listen to the panel discussion on Peace FM and have not yet had the opportunity to listen to the full audio recording of his assertion. My response is thus based on the content of the article ‘Kwesi Pratt: Catholics And Anglicans Support Sodomy’ made available by Peacefmonline.com and reproduced by Ghanaweb.com on the 11th of June 2011. The article quotes Mr Pratt as confidently saying that some priests and leaders of the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church are involved in homosexuality but nothing has been done by these two faiths to address the issue; and that a section of the ‘Anglican priests are carrying out religious marriage ceremonies for gays and same sex couples’. He went on to ignorantly assert that similar ‘phenomenon is happening in the Catholic Church, gay marriages are being blessed in the United States by Catholic priests’. Come again Mr so-called Ace Journalist!

We find ourselves in a world in which anybody or any organisation can deliberately tell and/or circulate horrible and false stories just to tarnish the reputation of other individuals, groups or institutions. To avoid such situations, it has become imperative particularly in journalism and law for every claim especially ones likely to defile or taint the image of an individual or group to be substantiated or convincingly proved. As an “ace” media man, Mr Pratt is expected to exhibit at least traces of professionalism by familiarizing himself with this essential journalistic principle (backing allegations with convincing evidence or proof). His sullying allegation against the Catholic Church and its leadership is not only ill-informed and unwarranted, but irresponsible. One would have expected him to provide the name and diocese of at least one practising Catholic priest who blesses same-sex marriages, so that curious and investigation-minded people like me could do the follow-up.

That some members of the Anglican Church including spiritual leaders in certain western countries are calling for the ordination of gay people and recognition of gay relationships, is absolutely undeniable. The involvement of some priests in gay and paedophilia related cases has also been widely reported and condemned. But are these good enough reasons to pronounce that the two churches particularly the Catholic Church and their leaders support homosexual acts? I honestly do not know much about the Anglican Church and will thus not focus attention on it. However, before a response is given to the allegation against the Catholic Church and its spiritual leaders, it is considered appropriate to provide a brief “outsider’s” description of what is happening in the Anglican Church at the moment.

What I know about the Anglican Church is that during the thirteenth Lambeth Conference (decennial assemblies of Anglican bishops convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury) in 1998, a unanimous resolution was passed categorically stating that homosexual acts are irreconcilable or incompatible with Holy Scripture. A few years later, a schism in the worldwide Anglican Church became evident when some conservative Anglican leaders, especially those from African countries expressed their anger and resentment over the liberal Episcopal Church in the United States’ decision to ordain practising homosexual members including one Gene Robinson, as priests and Bishops in 2003. This happened shortly after the aborted attempt to appoint a gay person, Jeffery John, as bishop of Reading in England. Faced with a potential break-up of the church, its leaders were compelled to hold a five-day crisis meeting in 2007 in Tanzania during which a statement was released giving the Episcopal Church (the American branch of the Anglican church) seven months to prove it had reversed its pro-gay agenda or face expulsion. In 2008, four Anglican primates in Africa (representing the Anglican provinces of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) and other individual bishops announced their intension to boycott the fourteenth Lambeth Conference in protest against the decision of the Episcopal Church in the USA to endorse homosexual clergy and same-sex unions. Mr Pratts comment is a big disrespect to these conservative Anglican primates who are doing everything possible to preserve and protect the sanity of traditional Anglican doctrines.

It is pretty clear today that the liberal and radical American branch of the Anglican Church is not prepared to reverse its pro-gay stance. A schism between the two North American branches (the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church of Canada) and the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion over equal rights for same-sex couples is thus inevitable. As a matter of fact many Primates do not recognize the Episcopal Church in the USA, its Canadian counterparts and other radical groups in other countries as a part of the Authentic Anglican Communion which has the Archbishop of Canterbury as the spiritual head. It will also interest Mr Pratt to know that the call and pressure for the Anglican Church to allow same-sex relationships and to ordain gay people as priests and bishops is coming basically from the congregation who mistakenly think religion (or religious doctrines) and democracy are bed fellows; and that through protests and votes they can alter established religious principles.

It should be noted that the Catholic Church, like all established religious denominations is founded on doctrines (a set of beliefs held and taught by it) and hugely defined by them. The doctrines of the Catholic Church are very well documented and accessible to all and sundry; and I can unreservedly tell Mr Pratt and the entire world that none of the official documents of the Catholic Church has a place for same-sex relationships; and no leader of the Church has ever supported same-sex union. The Catholic Church has made its stance on same-sex relationships superlatively clear. It views homosexual acts as unacceptable behaviour since they violate divine and natural law.

Since Mr Pratt is too lazy to embark on even the simplest of secondary research activities, may I briefly summarize the Catholic Church’s stance on same-sex relationships for him. Paragraphs 2357-2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a major repository of the Catholic doctrines), categorically state inter alia, that homosexual acts ‘are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.’ The Church being a good and loving Mother, however views homosexual inclination which is ‘objectively disordered’ as a trial for most homosexual people and thus invites both the clergy and the laity to help them overcome their condition by accepting them with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, avoiding every sign of unjust discrimination against them. The Church expresses optimism that through prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and determinedly approach Christian perfection. In 1975 Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI issued the ‘Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics’ in which he strongly denounces homosexual behaviour which he refers to as moral evil, but calls for empathy and compassion from followers of the Catholic Faith and all Christians for them.

In a pastoral letter, ‘Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan’ the Catholic Bishops of the United States of America emphasize that male-female complementarity is essential to marriage, as it makes possible authentic union and the generation of new life. Hence attempts to make same-sex unions the equivalent of marriage disregard the nature of marriage; and since marriage and same-sex unions are different realities, it is not unjust discrimination to oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions. It pronounces that such unions pose a serious threat to the fabric of society that affects all people.

It is about time people like Mr Pratt realized that the Roman Catholic Church which has played a prominent role in the history of western civilisation strongly rejects and discourages legal recognition of homosexual relationships, and will not deal leniently with priests who bless gay relationships. It was in fact reported in August 2008 that a German dean, Peter Kollas who allegedly blessed a gay marriage, was stripped of his position by the bishop of the diocese of Limburg. Kollas it is believed, had served as a dean in the German region of Hesse for 12 years, representing the bishop in the district around Wetzlar, yet he was removed from his leadership position for contravening church teachings on marriage.

So in what way is the Catholic Church supporting or encouraging same-sex relationship? Could Mr Pratt name just one Catholic leader who is calling for the legal recognition of homosexual relationships? On what planet is Mr Pratt living. He is advised to do his homework well before taking part in any such radio or TV programme next time, unless he wants to use those occasions as an opportunity to continue with his empty noise. He has not only betrayed his own ignorance and narrow-mindedness, but has also abused the freedom of the media. What a shame!

Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (aka Black Power)

A PhD student in Media and Communication, an investigative journalist and a lecturer in London, UK. He is the author of Fourth Phase of Enslavement: unveiling the plight of African immigrants in the West

Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong