Vatican Radio reported that Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckley of Archdiocese of Accra said countries need “time to deal with” homosexuality and other “issues from our own cultural perspectives.” He also highlighted the need for “the dignity and rights of all God’s sons and daughters need to be upheld,” as Vatican Radio reported.
Palmer-Buckley’s comments come four days after he and other Catholic bishops began a three-week gathering in Rome during which they will vote on a document that specifically addresses the family. Leaked drafts indicate that it reiterates the church’s opposition to unions between gays and lesbians.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, a gay Nigerian man who received asylum in the U.K., was among the LGBT Catholics who gathered in Rome earlier this month ahead of the start of the bishops’ meeting.
Mac-Iyalla on Thursday noted to the Washington Blade the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria has supported anti-LGBT measures in his homeland, including a 2014 law that punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison. Mac-Iyalla added African religious leaders should “stop colluding with governments in persecuting LGBT people.”
“I want to ask Archbishop Palmer if he did speak to any LGBT people before coming to attend the synod,” he told the Blade. “LGBT Africans are available to engage with the church in Africa, but the church must create the safe space.”
The bishops began their meeting in Rome a week after Pope Francis returned from the U.S. and Cuba.
The Argentine-born pontiff has taken a more moderate tone towards marriage rights for same-sex couples and homosexuality since he assumed the papacy in 2013, although the Vatican’s position on these issues has not changed.
Yayo Grassi, a gay man that Francis taught at a Catholic high school in Argentina in the 1960s, and his long-time partner had a private meeting with the pontiff on Sept. 23 at the Papal Nunciature in Northwest Washington.
Grassi told the Blade earlier this week during an interview at his D.C. home that Francis apologized for the “hurt” his comments against Argentina’s same-sex marriage law had caused him. Grassi also said the pontiff was “fooled” into allowing Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians because of her religious beliefs, into a group of people he greeted at the Papal Nunciature before traveling to New York.
“He said I have never said any of those things that the press is publishing about me,” Grassi told the Blade, referring to Francis’ response to his criticisms over Argentina’s same-sex marriage law. “He said as a matter of fact he never expressed himself about this question. And he ended up by saying something that to me is so important. He said believe me, in my pastoral work there is no place for homophobia.”