‘Politicians should move with the times’

Agapitus Hausiku

Agapitus Hausiku, the director of OutRight Namibia, says the decision by Pope Francis to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages is a welcome development for the more than 480 000 Roman Catholics in the country.

The figure is based on statistics from 2020.

The ruling, endorsed by the pontiff, permits blessings as long as they are not integrated into regular church rituals or liturgies.

Hausiku sees this decision as a positive step.

He says such a statement from the pope is crucial in supporting the ongoing struggle for dignity, respect and recognition of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trangender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community.

Hausiku hopes this progressive move would inspire politicians to break free from “outdated” colonial ideologies.

“We welcome this change of mind and move, and hope politicians stuck up in old colonial dogmas would wake up and move with the changing times,” he says.

“This is a call for celebration for open-minded and progressive societies,” he says.

The Vatican’s doctrinal office has approved a landmark ruling allowing Roman Catholic priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples, as long as these blessings do not form part of regular church rituals or liturgies.

This ruling, endorsed by Pope Francis, aims to signal that God embraces everyone, although it doesn’t legitimise what the church considers “irregular situations”.

Priests are encouraged to decide on a case-by-case basis, ensuring the church remains open to people seeking God’s help through simple blessings, despite these individual circumstances.

This move follows the pope’s previous hints at change and represents an effort to welcome LGBTQI+ individuals without altering the church’s stance on same-sex acts, which it still considers as contrary to its moral doctrine.

Carli Schickerling, the legal representative of the couples involved in the Supreme Court case enabling Namibia to recognise same-sex marriages performed abroad, yesterday expressed positivity about the recent development.

She acknowledged that despite the historically strong stance of Catholics against homosexuality, this move is seen as progressive.

She said the current deliberation within the Dutch Reformed Church about potentially separating from its South African counterpart due to differences over same-sex marriage rights goes beyond a simple denominational disagreement.

“We have the situation of the Namibian branch of the Dutch Reformed Church which wants to break away. Therefore, I don’t know if it would have an impact, but every small step is welcomed,” Schickerling said.

She raised concerns over the strict conditions attached to the decision, but noted its forward-thinking nature.

“I don’t forseee that it would have a massive effect on the Namibian situation. We have a large following of Catholics, but the church making a decision and the people following it are two different things,” Schickerling said.

Archbishop Liborius Nashenda did not pronounce himself on the matter as efforts to reach him were unsuccessful yesterday.

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