Controversy Surrounds Blessings Granted to Homosexuals in Madagascar

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The document “Fiducia supplicans,” released on December 18th, originating from the Vatican and endorsed by Pope Francis, now permits, under certain conditions, the blessings of couples deemed “irregular” in the eyes of the Catholic Church. This includes remarried divorcees and homosexual couples. The announcement has sparked widespread backlash on the island, swiftly disseminating through social media. Many, albeit mistakenly, interpreted it as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Humbly seeking a blessing, regardless of one’s identity, is now permissible. The Catholic Church indeed accepts the blessing of couples formed by individuals of the same sex, albeit without any ritualization or imitation of marriage.

This crucial clarification, apparently misunderstood or entirely overlooked by the Malagasy population, is elucidated by Father Séraphin Rafanomezantsoa, the coordinator of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar. “People confuse recognition and acceptance. The act of acceptance never endorses homosexuality. The blessing the Pope speaks of is not a blessing of the homosexual union. It must be clear. However, the Church can never exclude homosexual individuals. The Pope states: these individuals, like all others, are children of God, and therefore, they deserve the blessing.”

For the clergyman, this is not a display of tolerance but more of a reminder, he says, “a reminder of Jesus’ message that urges us to love, never to exclude—especially in the name of sexual orientation—nor to persecute.”

This message of acceptance has profoundly affected Anthony, a practicing Catholic and homosexual in a seven-year relationship. “I was very moved. I stood still when I realized it was true. I didn’t believe it would happen one day. I was genuinely very happy because I have thought about doing this here, but I am truly happy because I will stay in my Church, do this in my church, and ask for a blessing. I think it’s a big step. For me, it’s something impossible. I especially thank the Pope… since the arrival of Pope Francis, I have seen that the Church has truly begun to be more open.” Anthony and his partner plan to seek this blessing but express a desire to first gauge the reaction of Malagasy bishops and the cardinal to ensure they will follow the Pope’s message.

In recent days, extremely negative reactions have proliferated on social media. Some even warned, “Do not leave the Church because of one man.” In Madagascar, while homosexuality is not illegal, it is firmly condemned by the majority of society.

Soukaina Sghir

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