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Fiducia Supplicans (FS), the declaration that the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith (DDF) released permitting the blessing of “same-sex couples” and couples in other “irregular situations”, after the October 2023 Synod on Synodality conversations in Rome is “damaging” to the synodal process, an African Cardinal has said.

In a press conference at the end of the joint meeting between representatives of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo said the release of the Vatican document on December 18 was viewed by many as a fruit of the synod conversations.

“The timing, the moment when this document was published, was damaging for the synodal process,” the SECAM President said Thursday, January 25. Cardinal Ambongo added that FS “brought discredit to the synod, to synodality.”

He said, “In the first session, the synod dealt with all these issues, but the synod did not decide. So the publication of this document, between the two sessions of the Synod, was seen by most people as if it was the fruit of the synod when it had nothing to do with the synod.”

“There are some who have made the connection that the Synod on Synodality means approval of homosexual couples and homosexuality,” the Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said.

Since its release, FS has evoked mixed reactions and deep division among Catholic Bishops across the world. The Prefect of DDF called upon each Bishop to “make discernment” on implementing FS.

In Africa, Catholic Bishops issued a “consolidated summary” of their responses against the possibility of blessing couples as suggested in FS.

In their five-page response to FS, SECAM members said they “do not consider it appropriate for Africa to bless homosexual unions or same-sex couples because, in our context, this would cause confusion and would be in direct contradiction to the cultural ethos of African communities.”

The Catholic Bishops said the “spontaneous” and non-liturgical blessings, which FS proposes, “cannot be carried out in Africa without” causing “scandals.”

In the January 25 press conference, Cardinal Ambongo said the response of SECAM members has helped return calm which had been disrupted by the release of FS.

“I am happy to note that since the publication of my message on January 11, calm has returned to Africa and communion has returned with Pope Francis,” the member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap.) said, adding that FS had “created a negative situation” among Catholics and other people of God on the continent.