When it comes to the opposition of homosexuality, Africans are a ‘special case’, Pope Francis has said.
The Vatican leader said this in an interview with an Italian newspaper, La Stampa published on Monday.
He said he is confident that, except for Africans, critics of his decision to allow blessings for same-sex couples would eventually understand it.
Last month, a document called called Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust), allowed blessings for people who identified as LGBT.
This has caused widespread debate in the Catholic Church, with particularly strong resistance coming from African Bishops.
“Those who protest vehemently belong to small ideological groups,” Pope Francis told La Stampa.
“A special case are Africans: for them homosexuality is something ‘bad’ from a cultural point of view, they don’t tolerate it.
“But in general, I trust that gradually everyone will be reassured by the spirit of the ‘Fiducia Supplicans’ declaration by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith: it aims to include, not divide.”
Last week, the Pope appeared to acknowledge the pushback the document received, especially in Africa, where bishops have effectively rejected it and where in some countries same-sex can lead to prison or even the death penalty.
He said that when the blessings are given, priests should “naturally take into account the context, the sensitivities, the places where one lives and the most appropriate
ways to do it.”
In the interview with La Stampa, Francis said he was not concerned about the risk of conservatives breaking away from the Catholic Church due to his reforms, saying that talk of a schism is always led by “small groups.
“We must leave them to it and move on…and look forward,” he said.