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Cardinal Ambongo: Blessing same-sex couples is “cultural colonization”

Fridolin Ambongo Besungu

Tiziana FABI | AFP

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu

I.Media - published on 03/20/24

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo of Kinshasa, Congo, spearheaded the African bishops’ unified response to Fiducia supplicans in coordination with the Pope and the DDF.

“We have the impression that the West is losing its own roots,” said Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasa, in an interview on KTO TV broadcast on March 17, 2024.

Three months after the publication of the declaration authorizing non-liturgical blessings for people in homosexual or other non-marital unions, the leader of the African episcopate believes that Rome’s text should not have been published without prior consultation and in the midst of the Synod on the future of the Church. 

Leading the African response to Fiducia Supplicans

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, 64, is one of the most important voices in the Church today. President of SECAM — which brings together Africa’s bishops’ conferences — he also sits on the Council of Cardinals, the select group that advises the Pope on the governance of the Church. 

Fiducia supplicans, published on December 18, authorizes the non-liturgical blessing of people who are in an irregular situation in the eyes of the Church. Following its publication, the Congolese cardinal brought together the African bishops’ reactions — essentially negative— to publish a response. “No blessing for homosexual couples” in Africa, he said in a statement approved by the Pope. 

“I took my responsibility,” explained the Congolese cardinal before KTO’s cameras, recalling the “outcry” in Africa following publication of the text shortly before Christmas. “Some bishops […] went to war with the Pope head-on,” he explained. To ease the tension, Cardinal Ambongo went to Rome to explain to the Pope the African reactions to the text published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF). 

“I’m full of admiration and gratitude for the Pope’s pastoral sense. Because he read everything I brought him,” says the cardinal. He then worked with the author of Fiducia supplicans, Cardinal Fernandez, prefect of the DDF. “We had two objectives,” he sums up: “to calm our faithful on the African continent who had felt wounded in the faith” and “to save communion with the Successor of Peter.”

Critical of the process and timing

While the African response ultimately “brought peace” and “tranquility,” Cardinal Ambongo regrets the method with which the Vatican acted, publishing Fiducia supplicans without prior consultation and with particular “timing.” 

“I don’t think this text was necessary at that moment,” he says, recalling that the first session of the World Synod on Synodality had just ended in Rome, and that a second session will take place next October. 

“We’ll be coming back to all the questions we touched on during the first session of the Synod,” he says, (although the Synod secretariat has just made it clear that the October session will not deal with the document on the blessing of homosexual couples.)

On the question of homosexuality in Africa, Cardinal Ambongo assures that people with same-sex attraction are not rejected by the Church and are welcomed as “sons and daughters of God.”

“We don’t stigmatize them, but we don’t encourage the practice either,” he sums up.

From the non-Church standpoint, many African countries have very strict legislation against homosexuality. 

“Yesterday, the West brought us Jesus Christ.”

The cardinal was also asked about polemical remarks about the West he made in January: Speaking about the West “losing speed,” he said, “We wish them a happy demise.” The cardinal apologized “if anyone felt shocked by this expression.”

He went on to explain: “We have the impression that the West is no longer prepared to assume its own culture. Everything is relativized. Everything is called into question. And that worries us,” referring to current developments in sexual and family ethics in Europe.

And he adds, “Yesterday, the West brought us Jesus Christ, the Gospel. Today, we have the impression that the West is beginning to distance itself from this Gospel.”

Cardinal Ambongo does not hesitate to speak of “cultural colonization” and “Western imperialism” in Africa.

He thus takes up the phrasing with which Pope Francis has lamented the imposition of Western perspectives in poorer countries, especially in terms of gender ideology.

AfricaDemocratic Republic of CongoHomosexualityPope Francis
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