by Rev. Nicholas L. Gregoris
At today’s (Oct 8th) "Briefing" in the Sala Stampa, on the fourth full day of the Synod Father's deliberations, a key topic that emerged was the Church in Africa and the problems it is facing with regard to marriage and family in the Church and contemporary society. The main spokesman of the African Bishops at Thursday's "Briefing" was Archbishop Palmer-Buckler.
At a certain point, he was asked a question by Francis Di Bernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry. New Ways is a pro-LGBTQ organization that pro-actively advocates to have the Catholic Church change her teaching on homosexuality, meaning that the Church should fully condone homosexual activity, same-sex unions, and same-sex marriage. This organization has time and again been strongly condemned as blatantly heterodox by several U.S. Bishops, indeed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops itself.
So one may logically ask: Why was such an extreme organization accredited by the Holy See's Press Office, let alone their chief representative called upon to ask a question of a Synod Father at one of the daily press briefings?
The exchange between Archbishop Palmer-Buckler and Francis Di Bernardo was focused on the allegedly anti-homosexual views of the African Bishops, which Buckler clearly challenges. Di Bernardo asked why the African Bishops, who adamantly oppose same-sex marriage, are not equally concerned with the question of the "decriminalization" of homosexual acts in certain African countries. Archbishop Palmer-Buckler responded by reaffirming the dignity of homosexual persons in the eyes of God and the Catholic Church because they are indeed children of God created in His image and likeness, whom we are called to love in Christ and for whom we ought to have particular compassion. His Excellency went on to say that we, in the Western world, need "to be patient with Africa," as African peoples and governments learn to be more tolerant of homosexuals and perhaps can eventually agree to decriminalize homosexual acts, so that gays and lesbians are no longer arrested and killed.
That having been said, the Ghanan Archbishop never presented the other essential teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. For example, he could have said that:
(1) Homosexuality is an intrinsically disordered sexual orientation;
(2) Homosexual acts are gravely depraved acts, sins of which homosexual persons should repent in order to live chaste lives, while uniting their particular crosses to the all-redemptive and all-salvific Cross of Our Lord.
One could argue that, given the context of the Synod on the Family, Archbishop Palmer-Buckler missed a grand opportunity to instruct those present at the Briefing, but especially his interlocutor, a gay rights activist who also purports to be a loyal, practicing Catholic, about the fullness of the truth concerning homosexuality and homosexual activity.