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ACCRA, Ghana (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis and top Ghanaian cardinal Peter Turkson are maintaining a diplomatic silence as Ghanaian bishops endorse government legislation to criminalize LGBTQ+ advocacy and a furious Anglican archbishop of Canterbury lobbies Church leaders to change course.
The pro-LGBTQ+ archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is a close friend of the pontiff and would not hesitate to use his alliance with Francis to bring pressure on the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC), Church Militant has learned.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, prohibits "LGBTQ+ and related activities" and "propaganda of, advocacy for, or promotion of LGBTTQQIAAP+ and related activities." It cites an interest in protecting children and victims of abuse.
Turkson, who heads the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, earlier rejected the conflation of "human rights" with "an alternative [homosexual] lifestyle." He condemned the "ferocious onslaught" on the family and marriage coming "from outside Africa."
While publicly criticizing laws criminalizing homosexual behavior in Uganda, Turkson described the criminal sanctions imposed on homosexuals in Africa as an "exaggeration" and linked the criminal sanctions for homosexuals in African countries as "probably commensurate with tradition."
Vatican News, which ordinarily reports widely on Ghana, has blacked out its coverage on the escalating row as Western Catholic pro-LGBTQ+ crusaders urge Pope Francis to condemn the Ghanaian bill in their #PopeSpeakOut campaign.
Speaking to Church Militant, Ghanaian seminarian Lawrence Kofi Amoah insisted "Westerners should not impose their so-called LGBTQ+ values and beliefs on us Ghanaians because the laws, values and cultural beliefs in Ghana do not allow for such practices."
"We have never had a word in any of our languages for 'homosexuality.' This is very foreign to our culture," said Bro. Amoah.
Amoah, a student at Rome's Istituto Teologico San Pietro, elaborated:
Most religious leaders (Christians, Muslims and traditionalists) in Ghana have clearly expressed their stand on this issue condemning it as "morally unacceptable." I am therefore strongly convinced that the executive and legislature will never succumb to the pressure to legalize LGBTQ+ rights in Ghana.
On Wednesday, Welby said he was "gravely concerned by the draft anti-LGBTQ+ bill due to be debated by the Ghanaian Parliament" and would "be speaking with the archbishop of Ghana in the coming days to discuss the Anglican Church of Ghana's response to the bill."
As several African bishops opposed to Welby's pro-gay agenda threaten to boycott the global Lambeth Conference in 2022, Welby claimed the primates of the Anglican Communion are opposed to "the criminalization of same-sex attracted people."
However, the Christian Council of Ghana — which includes Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians, and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council — comprised of 200 churches and ministries — issued a joint statement Oct. 5 backing the legislation.
The Christian leaders said they "are excited" at the progress of the legislation and "encourage Parliament to expedite action" on the bill "to help safeguard our cherished family system in Ghana."
Asking Parliament "to protect our nation from the corruption and moral decadence of same-sex unions," the leaders said they "uphold the Bible as our principal guide and consider LGBTQ+ in all its forms as unacceptable behavior that God frowns upon (Romans 1:25-28)."
In the same week, Ghana's Catholic bishops said they wanted "this abominable practice made illegal in our country" as "the Bible, which is foundational to Christian beliefs and practices, condemns the practice."
The bishops argued:
Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and very compulsive and, therefore, they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts.
Calling for homosexuals to be "accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity," the bishops insisted "it is not right to subject homosexuals to any form of harassment simply because they are homosexuals."
"Nevertheless, according to the Church's understanding of human rights, the rights of homosexuals as persons do not include the right of a man to marry a man or of a woman to marry a woman," the bishops clarified.
"For the Church, this is morally wrong and goes against God's purpose for marriage," the bishops said, as GCBC president Abp. Philip Naameh called the union of Christians, Muslims and traditional religions supporting the bill a "formidable coalition."
Ghana's pro-family legislation was provoked by the opening of an LGBTQ+ advocacy resource center in Accra earlier in January, which was attended by some European Union delegates, the Australian high commissioner to Ghana and the Danish ambassador to Ghana.
"The episode brought about a renewed national debate on the activities of LGBTTQQIAAP+ persons in Ghana, with calls for such activities to be punished as they do not accord with the sociocultural values of any ethnic group in Ghana," the preamble to the draft bill noted.
Church Militant contacted Cdl. Turkson and Vatican News (Africa desk) but received no reply as of press time.
Although the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) recently banned the blessing of same-sex unions as "illicit" and "unlawful" while insisting God "does not and cannot bless sin," Pope Francis has called for civil union laws for same-sex couples.
Last year, Francis publicly endorsed a "married" homosexual couple who also hired a lesbian surrogate to have three children, Church Militant reported.