Francis Under Fire from Black Christians

Pope Francis has met with stiff opposition from black Christian leaders after approving the blessing of gay couples.

“We, your black Pentecostal brothers in the United States, standing in solidarity with our Catholic brothers in Africa and the diaspora,” begins an open letter to Pope Francis, are compelled to “condemn your decision to bless homosexual unions.”

The letter is signed by the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, founder and director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies and a minister for the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ.

Speaking for American black Pentecostal Christians, Rev. Rivers writes that “it is with alarm and anguish that we received the document Fiducia Supplicans,” the recent text from the Vatican’s doctrinal office permitting the blessing of gay couples.

The authorization of the blessing of “couples whose sinful conduct is central to their relationship is easily interpreted in ways that contradict the biblical principle of the complementarity of male and female,” Rivers states.

“The decision is already almost universally being interpreted as approving the blessing of sexual sin; indeed, it invites the inference that it was meant to be interpreted thus,” he adds.

By authorizing “the blessing of two men precisely as partners (i.e., as a “couple”) in a same-sex relationship, there is a recognition of the validity of the partnership — a partnership that is, on the ‘couple’s’ own self-understanding, sexual,” Rivers notes.

Rev. Rivers goes on to note that this is the interpretation given by the pope’s fellow Jesuit, Father James Martin, “a high profile priest of the Catholic Church who ministers to what it pleases him to call the ‘LBGTQ community.’”

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