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Reuters
CATHOLICS LGBT.JPG
Reuters
World News

Africans are 'special case' when it comes to LGBT blessings, says Pope Francis

by Reuters Journalist

Pope Francis said in an interview published on Monday he is confident critics of his decision to allow blessings for same-sex couples will eventually understand it, except for Africans who are "a special case".

Blessings were allowed last month in a document called Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust), which 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," Francis told Italian newspaper La Stampa, adding: "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," the pope continued.

Already last week, Francis appeared to acknowledge the pushback the document unleashed, especially in Africa, where bishops have effectively rejected it and where in some countries same-sex activity 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 confirmed he is scheduled to welcome at the Vatican the president of his native Argentina, Javier Milei, on Feb. 11, and that finally visiting the country is a possibility.

He said his agenda for 2024 currently includes trips to Belgium, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Speaking about his health, which has taken some knocks in recent years with hospitalisations, mobility problems and cancelled trips or events, the 87-year-old said, "there are some aches and pains but it's better now, I'm fine."

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