Concerning the opposition to extra-liturgical blessings to non-heterosexual unions as preferred by SECAM Bishops: A summary, critique and proposal

Mama Amon

JF-Expert Member
Mar 30, 2018
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Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), receiving some advice from his boss, Pope Francis

1. Abstract

On 18 December 2023, the Vatican declaration, Fiducia supplicans, was published, opening the possibility of blessing heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples, who are judged according to according to Catholic morality, to be living in “irregular situations," where examples included, polygamous, non-sacramental, contracepting and homosexual couples.

The Vatican, on 04 January 2024, just two weeks after the issuance of the declaration Fiducia supplicans, issued a clarification letter stating that, “there is no room" for Catholic Bishops "to distance [themselves] doctrinally” from the Pope’s declaration about blessings, since the document is not “heretical, contrary to the tradition of the Church or blasphemous”.

On 20 December 2023, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), circulated a letter to African Bishops requesting their opinions on the declaration, Fiducia Supplicans, with a view of preparing a collective statement from African Churches.

On 11 January 2024, on behalf of the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, issued a collective dissenting statement in which they say there will be “no blessing for homosexual (plus intersexual and transgender) couples in the African churches.” I have identified ten reasons which are stated in the SECAM letter. They are:
  1. a theological argument, that is, an argument from scriptures;
  2. an argument from natural law;
  3. an argument from the alleged inseparability of liturgical and extra-liturgical blessings;
  4. an argument from the alleged ambiguity of Fiducia Supplicans;
  5. an argument from the alleged unwillingness of same-sex couples to abandon sin;
  6. an argument from the insinuated scientific imperialism against the cultural ethos of African communities;
  7. an argument from the alleged confusion amongst the laity;
  8. an argument from the alleged scandal to the Bishops and priests;
  9. an argument from the alleged optionality of extra-liturgical blessings; and
  10. an argument from the alleged Papal agreement with dissenting African Bishops.
In response to these arguments contained in the SECAM letter, this essay was prepared by using desk review techniques of relevant secondary sources, to answer the following research questions:
  1. What are the reasons advanced by the SECAM Bishops who are dissenting against the Papal instructions via Fiducia Supplicans?
  2. Are the reasons offered by the dissenting SECAM Bishops valid and sound?
  3. Which philosophical outlooks underpin the thought processes of the SECAM Bishops?
  4. Depending on whether the reasons offered by the dissenting SECAM Bishops are either valid and sound or otherwise, what are the public policy implications to the lives of non-heterosexual citizens in Africa?
Ultimately, the arguments contained in the SECAM letter are rationally refuted, whereupon, the following recommendations are issued:

And to this end, as a matter of public policy and legislation, non-heterosexuals can, and should be protected by doing the following:
  1. To review our laws so as to register citizens by their proper sexual identities, either as males, females, homosexuals, intersexuals, or transgenders, where the relevant authority should be empowered to seek medical advice that will support her decisions with respect to sexual identity assignment.
  2. To review our marriage act so as to criminalise heterosexual pedication.
  3. To review our marriage act so as to decriminalize non-heterosexual pedication and
  4. To legally deny marital status to non-heterosexual unions.
  5. To legally assign civil union status to non-heterosexual unions.
  6. To make sure that the laws of the land state clearly that "non-heterosexuality" is not a crime, that any non-coital sex amongst non-heterosexuals is not a crime, and that heterosexual pedication is a crime.
  7. To constitutionally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation
  8. To legally criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation, except in accordance with the laws of the land.
  9. To legally bar theologians from trespassing into the scientific and philosophical domains to demonize non-heterosexuals without any valid Scriptural warrant.
  10. The African Union should coordinate these legal and constitutional reforms across Africa in order to counter the unwarranted evil agenda of demonizing non-heterosexuals across Africa, which is currently being perpetrated by some religious denominations.
In order to support these recommendations, the next part of this essay is organized into the following sections:
  1. Introduction and problem statement
  2. A literature review on the genesis of the SECAM Bishops' dissent
  3. Methodological and philosophical framework
  4. Presentation of the findings in response to key research questions
    1. A summary of the dissenting reasons offered by the SECAM Bishops,
    2. A critique of the arguments by SECAM Bishops,
    3. The inadequacy of the natural law argument against homosexual pedication,
    4. The inadequacy of the philosophical outlook underpinning the thought processes of SECAM Bishops
  5. Discussion, conclusions and recommendations.
  6. Disclaimer , and
  7. Essay authentication
II. Introduction and problem statement

About 500 Bishops under the continental religious umbrella known as the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), have unanimously opposed the Papal decision on the “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual (plus intersexual and transgender) couples, which are proposed in the Declaration, Fiducia supplicans (“The supplicating trust of the faithful People of God"), as issued one month ago.

Since its publication, on 18 December 2023, Fiducia Supplicans has been severally criticized by various bishops and Episcopal Conferences around Africa, allegedly for contradicting the official "deposit of faith" concerning traditional Christian marriage, according to which the subjects of marriage are "a man and a woman," and that the object of marriage is a sexual act which is apt for the generation of new life. Semiologically speaking, such an act is also known as a sexual act which simultaneously unitive in significance and procreative in significance.

Now, in response to the Vatican guidelines, the bishops of Africa and Madagascar have issued a collective dissenting statement in which they say there will be “no blessing for homosexual (plus intersexual and transgender) couples in the African churches.”

The letter, issued on 11 January 2024, was written by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and bears the heading “no blessing for homosexual (plus intersexual and transgender) couples in the African Churches.”

Ambongo said that the letter is a synthesis of all the African bishops’ opinions, which were sent to him in response to a request he issued to them on 20 December 2023. “It presents a consolidated summary of the opinions adopted by various national and inter-territorial episcopal conferences across the African continent,” he clarified.

In this letter, Ambongo said that while the African bishops “have strongly reaffirmed their communion with Pope Francis,” they still “believe that the extra-liturgical blessings proposed in the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans cannot be carried out in Africa.”

Such an overt disagreement between the Pope and his subordinate Bishops from Africa is an invitation to the intellectual community to ask and answer the following questions:
  1. What are the reasons advanced by the SECAM Bishops who are dissenting against the Papal instructions via Fiducia Supplicans?
  2. Are the reasons offered by the dissenting SECAM Bishops valid and sound?
  3. What are the philosophical outlooks that underpin the thought processes of SECAM Bishops?
  4. Depending on whether the reasons offered by the dissenting SECAM Bishops are either valid and sound or otherwise, what are the public policy implications to the lives of non-heterosexual citizens in Africa?
III. Methodological and philosophical framework

In order to answer the mentioned study questions, immanent realism was adopted as the philosophy underpinning the study.

Immanent realism is the view that properties are universals, and that universals are somehow present ‘in’ their instances. In Scholastic terms, they are universalia in rebus.

They contrast with transcendent universals, the universals of transcendent realism, which ‘transcend’ their instances.

Most philosophers are attracted to both realism about universals and naturalism (the doctrine that every entity exists in space and time), immanent realism is appealing, since it pulls universals out of ‘Plato’s heaven’ and brings them ‘down to earth.’

The rest of this par explains this point further by distinguishing between realism, nominalism and conceptualism, and elevating realism over others.





IV. Literature review on the genesis of the SECAM Bishops rebellion

One of the greatest attributes of Christianity, understood as a religion, is its missionary nature. It is oriented toward self-propagation and evangelization, in accordance with the command of Jesus, who said:

“Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you, and know that I am with you up to the end of time” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The term "evangelization" means the process of proclaiming and spreading Christian faith and the term "Church" refers to the institutional agent for facilitating this evangelization.

Against this background, if we were to take a mental flight, from 33AD to 2024AD, along the historical trajectory of Christian evangelization in Africa, we would come to a conclusion that the events that transpired during this period, in their unevenness and complexity, largely confirm Jesus’ declaration that the Kingdom of God is akin to the grain of a mustard seed.

According to Jesus, the grain of a mustard seed is “the smallest of all the seeds, but once it falls into the ground, it grows into a big tree to such an extent that the birds of the air find shelter in it” (Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:31-32; Luke 13:19).

Since the day when the first Christian missionaries set their feet upon the land of Africa to date, this seed has survived all kinds of weather both day and night.

Drawing from Jesus’ depiction of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46, right from her beginnings in Africa, the Church considered it to be her moral obligation to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and to to exhort others to put these works of mercy into action.

The Corporal Works of Mercy include such task as: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy include such task as: to counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant, to admonish the sinner, to comfort the sorrowful, to forgive all injuries, to bear wrongs patiently and to pray for the living and the dead.

Thus, the African people approached the mission centers not only for spiritual matters but also for education, health services, work, food in times of scarcity, to mail letters, to open savings accounts, and so forth. They provided all these services as a resolute commitment to work for the salvation and uplift of the whole person: spiritually, physically and socially.

Today, the African Church can feel grateful that she has perpetuated and brought into concrete realization the works of mercy established by Jesus Christ, introduced to this land by the missionaries.

(Jurg Baur (1994), 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa: An African History 62 –1992 (Nairobi: Paulines Publications))

However, in so far as the lives of people with disabilities (PWDs) arising from genetic disorders of sexual development (DSDs) are concerned, we can not say that this is true of the work of evangelization in Africa throughout this period of 2000 years.

This scandalous exception is confirmed by the recent position statement as issued by the SECAM leadership against Vatican's declaration entitled "Fiducia Supplicans."

Since 18 December 2023, when the declaration, Fiducia supplicans, was published, it opened the possibility of blessing sexual couples, who are judged according to according to Catholic morality, to be living in “irregular situations."

Such couples include polygamous heterosexual couples; contracepting heterosexual couples; heterosexual couples living a non-sacramental civil union; cohabitating heterosexual couples; and homosexual couples.

As opposed to heterosexual couples who regularly perform coitus, also referred to as copulation, some homosexual couples often perform pedication.

Coitus is psycho-somatically unitive in significance and procreative in significance, while pedication is psycho-somatically unitive in significance and not procreative in significance.

Heterosexual marriage is coital society, and by definition, the subject of marital sacrament. It is for this reason, the declaration Fiducia Supplicans insists that blessings to homosexual couples living together as sexual partners must be performed outside any form of liturgical rite related to sacramental marriages.

The Vatican, on 04 January 2024, just two weeks after the issuance of the declaration Fiducia supplicans, issued a clarification letter demanding that all bishops, national and international episcopal conferences should respect Papal decision on the proposed extra-liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

“There is no room to distance ourselves doctrinally” from the Pope’s declaration about blessings, the letter from Vatican said, adding that the document can’t be considered as “heretical, contrary to the tradition of the Church or blasphemous”.

The Vatican letter insisted that, although “prudence and attention to the ecclesial context and to the local culture could allow for different methods of application,” it should not boil down to “a total or definitive denial of this path that it proposed to priests.”

Despite these instructions from Vatican, the African bishops have now issued an emphatic, unified and overt “no” in opposition to Papal decision on extra-liturgical blessing of same-sex couples.

However, Cardinal Ambongo states that the letter from dissenting African Bishops has been endorsed by the Pope. A perusal of the Vatican news website (www.vaticannews.va) shows a story covering the decision contained in SECAM's letter, suggesting that the Pope may have knowledge of this letter.

It is within this context that, Cardinal Ambongo called upon African clergy to continue giving pastoral assistance to all its members and encouraged the clergy to “to provide welcoming and supportive pastoral care, particularly to couples in irregular situations” and the people "with a homosexual tendency," as instructed by the Pope, except for extra-liturgical blessings to homosexual couples.

Cardinal Ambongo said that, despite their collective dissenting opinion,“Some countries prefer to have more time for the deepening of the Declaration which, in fact, offers the possibility of these blessings but does not impose them.”

“In any case, we will continue to reflect on the value of the general theme of this document, apart from just blessings for couples in an irregular situation, that is to say, on the richness of spontaneous blessings in everyday pastoral care,” he added.

V. Presentation of the findings in response to study questions

1. A summary of the dissenting reasons as offered by the SECAM Bishops


According to the letter, “the Episcopal conferences generally prefer … not to offer blessings to same sex (plus intersexual and transgender) couples” despite the fact that “each Bishop remains free in his diocese” to permit such blessings as and when deemed fit in the future.

According to my analysis of the SECAM letter, it mentions ten reasons to support the African Bishops' general opposition to the proposed extra-liturgical blessings to homosexual (intersexual and transgender) unions.

One, is a theological argument, that is, an argument from scriptures. SECAM Bishops insist that, “unions of persons of the same sex are contrary to the will of God and therefore cannot receive blessings of the Church.” On this view, voluntary sexual acts of pedication, which are often performed by some homosexual (plus intersexual and transgender) couples, are "intrinsically disordered," since they are contrary to the will of God as revealed in the Bible in Genesis 19:4-11, Leviticus 18:22-23, Romans 1:26-33, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, they say.

Two, is an argument from natural law. SECAM Bishops claim that, voluntary sexual acts of pedication, as performed by some homosexual couples, are "intrinsically disordered," since they are contrary to "the values of the natural law regarding marriage and the family,” as per the interpretation of the Catholic Church superiors, according to which, homosexual acts are “considered as closing the sexual act to the gift of life and not proceeding from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.”

Three, is an argument from the alleged inseparability of liturgical and extra-liturgical blessings. SECAM Bishops think that, from the perspective of the spectator, as opposed to the perspective of the acting person, there is an ambiguous demarcation between "liturgical blessings" to heterosexual couples and "extra-liturgical blessings" to homosexual (intersexual and transgender) unions which will cause confusion to the believers.

Four, is an argument from the alleged ambiguity of Fiducia Supplicans. SECAM Bishops suggest that, because of its ambiguity, “the language of Fiducia Supplicans” has “sown misconceptions and unrest in the minds of many lay faithful, consecrated persons, and even pastors, and has aroused strong reactions,” which distract the Church from her current priorities.

Five, is an argument from the alleged unwillingness of same-sex couples to abandon sin. SECAM Bishops proffer that, “it remains very difficult" for African Bishops to be convinced that, by asking for non-liturgical blessings, "people of the same sex who live in a stable union do not" intend to covertly "claim the legitimacy of their own status” at par with heterosexual marriage.

Six, is an arrgument from the insinuated scientific imperialism against the cultural ethos of African communities. SECAM Bishops aver that, to "bless homosexual unions” directly contradicts "the cultural ethos of African communities,” which derive from the fact that, according to the dominant African sexual anthropology, heterosexuality is the only accepted standard of sexual behaviour.

Seven, is an argument from the alleged confusion amongst the laity. SECAM Bishops worry that, the “extra-liturgical blessings to same-sex unions cannot be carried out in Africa without exposing African laity to confusion,” since by administering “rites and prayers that could blur the definition of marriage” understood as “an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, open to procreation” the Bishops will appear to be publicly betraying the Biblically supported “Church’s doctrine on marriage and the family.”

Eight, is an argument from the alleged scandal to the Bishops and priests. SECAM Bishops fear that, the “extra-liturgical blessings to same-sex unions cannot be carried out in Africa without exposing African bishops to scandals,” since by administering such blessings the Bishops will appear to be publically betraying the dominant African sexual anthropology.

Nine, is an argument from the alleged optionality of extra-liturgical blessings. SECAM Bishops conclude that, they have a discretion to administer “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual couples, since “the distinction made by Fiducia Supplicans between liturgical blessings or formal ritual blessings and spontaneous blessings is not intended to mandate that there be blessings for couples in irregular situations and same sex (plus intersexual and transgender) couples.”

And ten, is an argument from the alleged Papal agreement with dissenting African Bishops. SECAM Bishops argue that, since Fiducia Supplicans gives them a discretion to either administer or refrain from administering “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual (intersexual and transgender) couples, given that they have chosen to refrain from administering such blessings, and since, their choice “has received the agreement of His Holiness Pope Francis,” who has agreed to release them from such an obligation, they will not administer “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual couples until when they are made mandatory by the Pope.

2. Criticisms against the dissenting position as offered by SECAM Bishops

The collective statement by the dissenting African Bishops, as summarised by the leadership of SECAM, and circulated on 11 January 2024, by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), has met with a long list of strong criticisms.

In the following paragraphs, while acting as a Catholic layperson, I wish to extend this list by adding my own criticisms.

A critique of the argument from scriptures

One, SECAM Bishops insist that, “unions of persons of the same sex are contrary to the will of God and therefore cannot receive blessings of the Church.” On this view, voluntary sexual acts of pedication, which are often performed by some homosexual (plus intersexual and transgender) couples, are "intrinsically disordered," since they are contrary to the will of God as revealed in the Bible in Genesis 19:4-11, Leviticus 18:22-23, Romans 1:26-33, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

However, I critically reply in two steps. Firs, I wish to observe that, there is double equivocation here. First, SECAM Bishops have equivocated on the word “blessings” which has already been disambiguated by the Pope through Fiducia Supplicans.

And secondly, SECAM Bishops have equivocated on the words “the will of God,” which has multiple meanings too. They do not tell us "the subjects" of the will of God.

As a matter of science and simple logic, “the will of God” for the sexual flourishing of heterosexual humans is not, and cannot be, the same thing for homosexual humans, intersexual humans, and transgender humans.

These three human categories, namely, homosexuals, intersexuals, and transgenders, are not known to the author of the Bible, hence “the non-heterosexuality question” has no Biblical solution.

In the second step, I want to formally critique the attempt by SECAM Bishops to condemn homosexual pedication without any Biblical warrant. This is a religious argument. And generally, a religious argument proceeds as follows:
  • If the Biblical God commands believers to refrain from action X, then action X is wrong for believers.
  • The Biblical God commands that believers should refrain from action X.
  • Therefore, action X is wrong for believers.
Specifically, in the present case, the religious argument under consideration proceeds as follows:
  • If the Biblical God commands homosexual believers to refrain from homosexual pedication, then homosexual pedication is wrong for these believers.
  • The Biblical God commands homosexual believers to refrain from homosexual pedication.
  • Therefore, homosexual pedication is wrong for these believers.
My critique here is that, premise two does not obtain. Nowhere in the Bible does God "command homosexual believers to refrain from homosexual pedication."

Robert K. Gnuse (2015), in his article "Seven Gay Texts: Biblical Passages Used to Condemn Homosexuality," as published by the journal "Biblical Theology Bulletin," Volume 45, Number 2, on Pages 68–87, says the following:

"There are seven texts often cited by Christians to condemn homosexuality: Noah and Ham (Genesis 9:20-27), Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-11), Levitical laws condemning same-sex relationships (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), two words in two Second Testament vice lists (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:10), and Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 1:26-27). The author believes that these do not refer to homosexual relationships between two free, adult, and loving individuals. They describe rape or attempted rape (Genesis 9:20-27, 19:1-11), cultic prostitution (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), male prostitution and pederasty (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10), and the Isis cult in Rome" (Romans 1:26-27).(p.68)

A perusal of these texts, reveals no word or phrase which directly mentions a phenomenon that we today we call a "homosexual condition" as opposed to "homogenital acts" of pedication.

The latter can equally be performed by heterosexuals, though based on different motivations. While homosexual pedication is motivated by homo-affective libido heterosexual homogenital pedication is not.

Specifically, it is unthinkable to conclude that the Sodom mob that was chasing the "angles" was a team of homosexuals. To conclude thus, would suggest that, the Sodom and Gomorrah villages were villages of homosexuals. This conclusion beats human logic.

In fact, the import of the creation accounts in Genesis for Christian theology, especially for its normative understanding of human sexuality, is highlighted by a story in the synoptic gospels.

In Mark 10:2-12 and its parallel Matt 19:3-9, Jesus, in response to the Pharisees’ question about divorce, invokes the creation accounts in Genesis as revelatory of God’s original creative purpose and draws from these accounts one normative implication.

“But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).

This divine creative act is the reason why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes one flesh with his wife. They are no longer two but one reproductive organism.

From this worldview, one key implication follows: this is to say that, at a deep metaphysical level, as well as a moral level, human nature is sexually dual, but not dualistic, and this sexual difference, to repeat, is not just a bodily or a physical difference, but an ontological one.

The man and the woman are each in his and her own right fully human and made by God for God, but are ordered to and given to one another as mutual helpmates to constitute the human.

So, human beings are to have a family history, not just a personal story. The capacity to procreate, to become participants with God in the creation of new human life (Gen 4:1) is not an accidental or casual feature of human sexual duality, but a fundamental aspect of human sexual responsibility, of the human vocation as male and female.

The broader Biblical argument is that the intellectual framework provided by the larger biblical narrative that supports an understanding of the natural law of human sexuality reveals that there is an inseparable connection willed by God between the unitive meaning and procreative meaning of human heterosexuality.

Put negatively, this is to say that the biblical narrative does not enable Biblical theologians, indeed does not allow them, to make any theological sense out of homosexual relationships and actions, precisely as sexual.

This is the theological reason that explains why the Catholic Church teaches that the homosexual orientation, insofar as it is an inclination to actions that are theologically unintelligible, is an objective disorder.

In short, then, from Genesis to Revelation we have a meta-narrative of God's plan for the salvation of heterosexual human persons, where, according to "God's will" for heterosexual relations, these heterosexual relations are ordained toward the generation of new human life, according to the command "increase and multiply." (Genesis 1:28)

Within this context, thus, it logically follows that, "heterosexual pedication" will be contrary to "God's will" for "heterosexuals" and not contrary to "God's will" for non-heterosexuals, who are not mentioned in the Bible.

As such, the Bible has no answer to the "non-heterosexual question." This is to say that, there is no theological solution to the "non-heterosexual problem."

Thus, the above theological argument from SECAM fails, since, Bishops have no Biblically warranted authority to condemn or condone homosexual relations, as they are doing through the SECAM letter. Theologically speaking, their condemnation is null and void ab initio.

To be exact, only heterosexual pedication, that is heterosexual anal sex, and not non-heterosexual pedication, has a biblical answer. The latter is not a theological question. It is a scientific and philosophical question, and the science of genetics has a specific answer to it.

As such, conflating the "heterosexual pedication question" and the "homosexual pedication question," as often done by some Biblical scholars, including SECAM Bishops, makes them laughable in the eyes of the intellectual community, which is scientifically minded and aware of what the Bible says and does not say about heterosexuality, homosexuality, intersexuality, and transgenderism.

In short, invoking the Bible to address “the non-heterosexuality question” is a wastage of time, as one is here falling into the trap of “invoking obsolete formulas” to solve new problems, which were not envisioned by the author of the Bible.

A critique of the argument from natural law

Two, SECAM Bishops claim that, voluntary sexual acts of pedication, including heterosexual and homosexual pedication, are "intrinsically disordered," since they are contrary to "the natural law,” as per the interpretation of the Catholic Church superiors, according to which, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered because they are “considered as closing the sexual act to the gift of life and not proceeding from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.”

However, I critically reply that, the claim that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered because they are closed to the transmission of life can be challenged from several fronts.

First, permanently infertile reproductive acts are as biologically closed to the transmission of life as homosexual acts.

From a strictly reproductive point of view, non-reproductive heterosexual acts do have a lot in common with homosexual acts in terms of personal integration and interpersonal complementarity.

Specifically, while homosexual acts do not exhibit heterogenital or reproductive complementarity, they do promote body-self integration just as non-reproductive heterosexual acts do.

Body-self integration is an important psychosocial dimension of the human person, and therefore of the sexual human person.

In fact, to be truly human, and therefore reasonable and moral, a sexual act must be integrated with the whole self, biologically, personally, relationally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In short, an essential part of the human person and of his or her constitution, and therefore an essential part of self-integration, is sexual orientation, an element that must be a part of a genuine sexual anthropology.

Both heterosexual copulation between infertile couples and homosexual pedication qualify along the criterion of realising the basic good of body-self integration. As such it is a double standard to ban one act and permit the other.

Secondly, the claim that homosexual acts of pedication are "intrinsically disordered," meaning that they are contrary to "the natural law,” as per the interpretation of the Catholic Church superiors, according to which, homosexual acts are are closed "to the gift of life and not proceeding from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity,” is unacceptable since it is based on a misinterpretation of Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law, when viewed through the lens of possession, provation and deprivation. (More on this point in the last but one section).

A critique of the argument from the alleged inseparability of liturgical and extra-liturgical blessings

Three, SECAM Bishops think that, from the perspective of the spectator, as opposed to the perspective of the acting person, there is an ambiguous demarcation between "liturgical blessings" to heterosexual couples and "extra-liturgical blessings" to homosexual unions which will cause confusion to the believers.

However, I critically reply that, under catholic moral principles, the three determinants of morality are the performance, intention and circumstances, meaning that morality is determined, not from the perspective of the spectator, but from the perspective of the acting person.

As such, a Bishop who judges the morality of his act of blessing a homosexual couple by referring to what meaning the spectator assigns to it is not consistent with the catholic doctrine on the three fonts of morality.

A critique of the argument from the alleged ambiguity of Fiducia Supplicans

Four, SECAM Bishops suggest that, “the language of Fiducia Supplicans” is ambiguous to the extent that it has “sown misconceptions and unrest in the minds of many lay faithful, consecrated persons, and even pastors, and has aroused strong reactions,” which distract the Church from her current priorities.

However, I critically reply that, the alleged "misconceptions" and "unrest" have resulted from interpretive incompetence of some readers including some Bishops.

The document Fiducia supplicans (FS) claims that priests may, in certain circumstances, give blessings to “couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples” (Víctor Manuel Cardinal Fernández, “Presentation”; FS 31).

The qualifying circumstances include the following factors: scandal must be avoided (FS 30, 39), the blessing is to be informal and not performed in a liturgical setting (FS 9-11, 23-24, 31-39), and the blessing must neither lead to confusion (FS 5) nor signal a change in the Church’s moral teaching (Fernández, “Presentation,”; FS 3, 4). There are any scenarios in which all these qualifying circumstances are realized.

We can summarize FS as follows:
  • Liturgical blessings require the object of blessing to conform to God’s will.
  • Enduring and maintaining a Same Sex union does not conform to God’s will. Therefore, SS unions cannot be the object of a liturgical blessing.
  • However, blessings are not to be reduced to liturgical blessings only, since, there are blessings such as the one given by God to mankind by sending His Son to be our Lord and Saviour, where, that blessing on its own had as its object the unworthy, sinful, and fallen world of man. Such a blessing surely had no preconditions nor did it require us to do anything. It was all a move of God’s free and undeserved mercy, love, and grace.
  • From this consideration, a pastoral option opens for the Church to use the power of the priesthood to administer blessings towards Same Sex unions without requiring the couples to quit their sin.
While the pontificate of Pope Francis has often been accused of often issuing ambiguous statements, a claim which I cannot deny, in the case of Fiducia Supplicans, this charge cannot stand.

The author of Fiducia Supplicans was careful to disambiguate key terms in a way that makes the document readable and understandable.

A critique of the argument from the alleged unwillingness of same-sex couples to abandon sin

Five, SECAM Bishops proffer that, “it remains very difficult" for African Bishops to be convinced that, by asking for extra-liturgical blessings, "people of the same sex who live in a stable union do not" intend to covertly "claim the legitimacy of their own status” as being an alternative lifestyle to heterosexual marriage.

However, I critically reply in two steps. First, I observe that, the practice of blessing sinners and condemning their sin, as a strategy of conversion, makes such a doubt on the part of the pastor unwarranted. Thieves, adulterers, fornicators and liers do repent and sin again cyclically, but this fact has never stopped the Bishops to keep blessing such individuals.

On this point, FS includes a helpful set of reflections on the various kinds and parts of blessings (a descending gift from God, an ascending prayer of praise or thanksgiving to God, and an extending of blessing towards another).

Along this line of thought, a blessing is chiefly (as a descending reality) a gift of divine assistance in the present for the ultimate good of the recipient. As such, a blessing is a means to an end.

The ultimate end of any blessing is of course eternal salvation, but the proximate end is some present good suitable for the journey to heaven. A blessing targets the recipient either simply as a person—called to be a son or daughter of God—or according to some special aspect, activity, or purpose in life. If the blessing targets a special activity, it gives wings, so to speak, to the person in that activity, approving it and assisting it.

Then, in its key paragraph, FS states that, “Within the horizon outlined here appears the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex” (FS 31). Clearly, FS is here treating persons as partners in both sexual and non-sexual relationships. Thus, it is treating them under a special aspect, namely, as being partners in various kinds of non-marital sexual relationship: unmarried, adulterous, homosexual, intersexual, transgender, and so on.

There is a clear renouncing of the “bad” elements of a same-sex couple, i.e., the same-sex activities. And therefore those who think this documents approves same sex marriage or same sex acts are mistaken.

Only the “positive elements” are to be blessed so as to enrich the good that is already there existing in the relationship. What the Church can do is to keep warning them of the scandal and sin that they reside in, in light of the coming judgment.

Here is what FS says:

“A blessing … descends from God upon those who… do not claim a legitimation of their own status, but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit …”

In the second step, I wish to note that, the SECAM position is based on their inadvertent or intentional succumbing to a category mistake. They appear to confound the Biblical sin of heterosexual pedication and the Biblical non-sin of non-heterosexual pedication. The latter is nowhere condemned in the Bible.

The following quotation conspicuously reveals their category mistake, presumably, as a result of their scientific incompetence on matters pertaining to genetic disorders of sexual orientation differentiation and development, which cripple the normal process of sexual orientation differentiation and development:

“We, African Bishops, insist on the call for conversion of all (heterosexual and non-heterosexual humans without distinction). Like Hosea, Jesus comes to bear witness to the tenderness of God: ‘He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ (Mt. 9:3). Of this there is no doubt. But Jesus also stretches out his hand to the sinner so that he may rise, so that he may convert (Mk. 1:5). After showing such tenderness to the (heterosexual) woman caught in adultery, he said to her: ‘Go, and from now on, sin no more’ (Jn. 8:11). As the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt. 5:13-14), the merciful mission of the Church is to go against the tide of the (non-heterosexual) spirit of the world (Rom. 12:2) and to offer it the best (explanation based on social constructionism), even if it is demanding.”

A critique of the argument from the insinuated scientific imperialism against the cultural ethos of African communities

Six, SECAM Bishops aver that, to "bless homosexual unions" directly contradicts "the cultural ethos of African communities,” which derive from the fact that, according to the dominant African sexual anthropology, heterosexuality is the only accepted standard of all sexual behaviour.

However, I critically reply in two stages. First, it is the case that, the dominant African sexual anthropology, according to which heterosexuality is the only accepted standard of all sexual behaviour, is a product of African sexological and scientific illiteracy.

A scientifically literate society knows and accepts that, there is a distinction between homosexual orientation, heterosexual orientation, bisexual orientation and asexual orientation.

Thus, an essential part of the human person and of his or her constitution, and therefore an essential part of self-integration, is sexual orientation, an element that must be a part of a genuine sexual anthropology. In African sexual anthropology this element is missing, and thus, from a scientific perspective, the Africal sexual worldview is incomplete, and the attendant "cultural ethos of African communities,” need revision.

Africa has to be awakened to the point of seeing and accepting the scientific and anthropological fact that, sexuality is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love.

From this view, it forms an integral part of the development of the personality and of its educative process. It is from sex that the human person receives the characteristics which, on the biological, psychological, and spiritual levels, make that person a man or a woman or otherwise, and thereby largely condition his or her progress towards maturity and insertion into society.

Accordingly, since it is true that a person’s sexuality and sexual characteristics largely condition her or his insertion into society, then the question naturally arises about the ‘‘nature’’ and meaning of what is called today "sexual orientation," the dimension of human sexuality that directs a person’s sexual desires and energies and draws him or her into deeper and more sexually intimate human relationships.

So, to define truly human, and hence, moral sexual acts, we must first understand what "sexual orientation" is and what it is not.

Essentially, "sexual orientation" is nowadays defined as psychosexual attraction at an erotic, emotional, and affective levels, toward particular individual persons of the opposite or same sex; where, depending on whether the attraction is androphilic or gynephilic, androphilic-to-androphilic attractions lead to male homosexual orientation, gynephilic-to-gynephilic attractions lead to female homosexual orientation, and androphilic-to-gynephilic attractions lead to heterosexual orientation. We have a body of scientific evidence in support of this position since 1965.

In the second stage I wish to point out that, the history of science proves that it is a power which acts as a solvent of irrational cultural beliefs, norms and values.

In this case culture is a solute which dissolves gradually until when it no longer dissolvers, meaning a point at which science and culture solution reaches an equilibrium point.

Such a point is totally compatible with the five traditional laws of rational thought, logical thinking, and reality, namely:
  • the principle of non-contradiction,
  • the law of excluded middle,
  • the law of identity,
  • the principle of sufficient reason, and
  • the identity of indiscernible.
Concerning the law of identity, it is the case that the word "be" or "not be" has a definite meaning, so that not everything will be "so and not so". Again, if "man" has one meaning, let this be "two-footed animal"; by having one meaning I understand this:—if "man" means "X", then if A is a man "X" will be what "being a man" means for him.

Concerning he principle of non-contradiction, it is the case that, that "being a man" should mean precisely not being a man, if "man" not only signifies something about one subject but also has one significance ... And it will not be possible to be and not to be the same thing, except in virtue of ambiguity, just as if one whom we call "man", and others were to call "not-man"; but the point in question is not this, whether the same thing can at the same time be and not be a man in name, but whether it can be in fact.

Concerning the law of excluded middle, it is the case that, everything must either be or not be. That is, there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories, but of one subject we must either affirm or deny any one predicate.

Concerning the principle of sufficient reason, we know it states that everything must have a reason or a cause.

This is to say that, in virtue of which we hold that there can be no fact real or existing, no statement true, unless there be a sufficient reason, why it should be so and not otherwise, although these reasons usually cannot be known by us.

The principle has a variety of expressions, all of which are perhaps best summarized by the following:

For every entity X, if X exists, then there is a sufficient explanation for why X exists; For every event E, if E occurs, then there is a sufficient explanation for why E occurs; For every proposition P, if P is true, then there is a sufficient explanation for why P is true.

In general, common sense and science alike suppose that there are explanations for the existence of the things we encounter, the attributes things exhibit, and the events that occur.

And typically we find that this is indeed the case. You find an unfamiliar pair of sunglasses lying on your sofa, and after asking around you determine that they were inadvertently left there by a visiting friend.

You notice a rash on your arm and upon reflection realize that you probably brushed up against some poison oak during a recent hike.

You hear a series of scratching sounds coming from the roof above and find upon investigation that it was made by a neighborhood cat or a family of raccoons.

Biologists explain the origin of new forms of life in terms of mutation and natural selection.

Physicists explain the temperature of water in terms of mean molecular kinetic energy, and the orbits of the planets in terms of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

Even when we don’t find an explanation, we don’t doubt that there is one, and we often at least do have an explanation of the fact that we don’t have an explanation of whatever it is we are investigating.

For example, when a murder remains unsolved, we know that the reason is that the murderer was very careful to avoid leaving fingerprints, to make sure there were no witnesses, to hide the body so that it would take a long time to find it, and so forth.

So, everything in fact has an explanation, even if it’s an explanation we haven’t discovered and never will discover. The thesis that this is the case is known as the principle of sufficient reason.

In short, rational inquiry in general, and scientific inquiry in particular, presuppose the principle of sufficient reason.

And the explanation of anything is going to be found either in the thing’s own nature, or in something outside it. In the latter case, we can say that the thing is contingent—that it depends on circumstances outside itself, and thus will not exist if those circumstances do not hold.

In the former case, we can say that the thing is necessary—that there is something in its own nature that entails that it cannot fail to exist, so that it depends on nothing outside itself.

There is no third possibility. If a thing is explained neither by its own nature nor by anything outside itself, then it would be explained by nothing at all. But something’s having no explanation at all is ruled out by PSR

And concerning the law of identity of indiscernibles, states that there cannot be separate objects or entities that have all their properties in common.

That is, entities x and y are identical if every predicate possessed by x is also possessed by y and vice versa. It states that no two distinct things (such as snowflakes) can be exactly alike.

It is an ontological principle. In other words, if two objects are in fact one and the same, they have all the same properties.

Some African existential beliefs, norms and values are not compatible with these three traditional laws of thought. They have to be adjusted accordingly by the help of science.

A critique of the argument from the alleged confusion amongst the laity

Seven, SECAM Bishops worry that, the “extra-liturgical blessings to same-sex unions cannot be carried out in Africa without exposing African laity to confusion,” since by administering “rites and prayers that could blur the definition of marriage” understood as “an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, open to procreation” the Bishops will appear to be publically betraying the Biblically supported “Church’s doctrine on marriage and the family.”

However, I critically reply that, when we communicate, our words (signs) represent our ideas about some phenomenon in the extra-mental real world. As such, only from the perspective of the acting person can one extract the real meaning contained in the sign. Thinking otherwise proves that one is semiologically incompetent.

A critique of the argument from the alleged scandal to the Bishops and priests

Eight, SECAM Bishops worry that, the “extra-liturgical blessings to same-sex unions cannot be carried out in Africa without exposing African bishops to scandals,” since by administering such blessings the Bishops will appear to be publically betraying the dominant African sexual anthropology.

However, I critically reply that, since the anticipated "scandals" are premised on a pre-scientific African sexual anthropology, the worries are unfounded. In fact, African Bishops have a duty to become a "salt" of knowledge in the world of pre-scientific ignorance surrounding many "cultural ethos of African communities.”

A critique of the argument from the alleged optionality of extra-liturgical blessings

Nine, SECAM Bishops understand that, they have been given a discretionary power to either administer or refrain from administering “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual couples, since “the distinction made by Fiducia Supplicans between liturgical blessings or formal ritual blessings and spontaneous blessings is not intended to mandate that there be blessings for couples in irregular situations and same sex couples.”

However, I critically reply that, when the papal instruction is framed in terms of a negative norm, “you shall not deny a blessing to couples living in irregular situations when one is requested,” it generated a duty whose fulfillment becomes mandatory.

In moral philosophy we say that negative norms such as, "you shall not kill," "you shall not commit adultery," and you shall not tell lies," are negative precepts which are exceptionless, meaning that they are universally binding to every subject, every time and every place. Only the fulfilment of positive duties is optional.

So, either the dissenting SECAM Bishops are not aware of this basic distinction between positive and negative duties, or they have forgotten, or they have intentionally decided to brush aside the standard moral principles which they were taught while studying as students in the catholic major seminaries.

A critique of the argument from the Papal agreement with dissenting Bishops

And ten, SECAM Bishops argue that, since Fiducia Supplicans gives them a discretionary power to either administer or refrain from administering “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual couples, given that they have chosen to refrain from administering such blessings, and since, their choice “has received the agreement of His Holiness Pope Francis,” who has agreed to release them from such an obligation, they will not administer “extra-liturgical blessings” to homosexual couples until when they are made mandatory by the Pope.

However, I critically reply that, there is a philosophy of incoherence at work here. There are no sins for Africans only and sins for whites only. If homosexual pedication is a sin, then it must be so for each and every Christian.

As such saying that the Pope has released African Bishops from the duty of blessing homosexual unions “because it is a sin,” and claiming that Fiducia Supplicans is still a valid Vatican document applicable to other continents portrays the Catholic Church as a victim of a disease called relativism, or jokingly, a church suffering from selective amnesia.

Amnesia is a deficit in memory caused by brain damage or brain diseases,[1] but it can also be temporarily caused by the use of various sedatives and hypnotic drugs. The memory can be either wholly or partially lost due to the extent of damage that was caused.

And selective amnesia is a type of amnesia in which the sufferer loses only certain parts of their memory. Common elements that may be forgotten are relationships, where they live, and certain special abilities and talents (e.g., juggling, whistling, instrumental talents, etc.).

3. The inadequacy of the natural law argument against homosexual pedication

Here, I want to critique the philosophical natural law argument against homosexual pedication, by defeating the natural law argument which has been offered by SECAM Bishops.

We have seen that, the second reason for opposing Fiducia Supplicans, according to SECAM Bishops is that, voluntary sexual acts of pedication, including heterosexual and homosexual pedication, are "intrinsically disordered," since they are contrary to "the natural law,” as per the interpretation of the Catholic Church superiors, according to which, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered because they are “considered as closing the sexual act to the gift of life and not proceeding from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.”

In what follows, under this section, this argument is refuted philosophically, by showing that, homosexual acts are not intrinsically disordered, but only extrinsically disordered relative to heterosexuality.

Generally, a natural law argument proceeds as follows:
  • If action X possesses the moral wrong making property P of being unnatural with respect to some inherent finality, then it is wrong.
  • Action X possesses the moral wrong making property P of being unnatural with respect to some inherent finality.
  • Therefore, action X is wrong.
Specifically, in the case of heterosexual pedication, the natural law argument against heterosexual pedication proceeds as follows:
  • If heterosexual pedication involving fertile couples possesses the moral wrong making property of being unnatural with respect to the the inherent finality of procreation, then it is wrong.
  • Heterosexual pedication involving fertile couples possesses the moral wrong making property of being unnatural with respect to the inherent finality of procreation.
  • Therefore, heterosexual pedication is wrong.
Admittedly, this argument succeeds in so far as the telology of heterosexual coitus, which is an efficient cause, being premised on the existence of heterosexual libido, has procreation as its end, which is its final cause.

And in the case of homosexual pedication, the natural law argument against homosexual pedication would proceed as follows:
  • If homosexual pedication possesses the moral wrong making property of being unnatural with respect to the the inherent finality of procreation, then it is wrong.
  • Homosexual pedication possesses the moral wrong making property of being unnatural with respect to the inherent finality of procreation.
  • Therefore, pedication is wrong.
It is my position that, this last version of the natural law argument fails, for the simple reason that, premise two does not obtain, since it is premised on the existence of non-heterosexual libido. The rest of this section seeks to support this position.

According to the Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law, as understood within the limits of the Old Natural Law (ONL), at least, the essential properties of a thing, such as a human person, are based on a metaphysical distinction between possession, privation, and deprivation.

The basic idea is that some entities are the kind of thing that can possess certain properties and others are not. And we can further distinguish between something possessing a property from the capacity to possess that property.

Some animals, for example, are the kind of animal that has the capacity to possess teeth. When an animal possesses teeth, it actualizes this capacity.

If an animal loses its teeth (e.g., in a fight, to decay) then it no longer possesses them and suffers from privation. Privation, then, affects possession, not the capacity to possess a property.

Capacities play an important role in ONL because they provide a metaphysical explanation for why something is the kind of thing that it is.

In ONL vernacular, this explanation is an "essence." Essences enumerate the capacities something has in virtue of being a member of a kind. In other words, an essence is more than a list: it is a structural, organizational unity.

Essences integrate capacities to work together by directing them toward a shared end. For example, the lungs’ capacity to take in air and diffuse oxygen into the blood works with the heart’s capacity to pump blood through the circulatory system.

The circulatory system organizes veins and arteries to work together in moving oxygenated blood through the body.

Capacities, therefore, promote an organism’s well-being not just by functioning correctly in isolation, but by functioning correctly together.

In order to ensure that these capacities contribute to an organism’s flourishing, essences require an objectively real, rather than conventionally imposed, principle to uniquely unify a kind.

This principle of unity constitutively causes each member of the kind to have that organized set of essential capacities.

But essences are not static blueprints: they guide an organism’s development in terms of the capacities it constitutively has because the ONL sees normativity as built into the very fabric of reality.

This metaphysical normativity means that an organism’s development, growth, and maturation are teleological because they aim at actualizing its essential capacities.

This teleological point indicates that possession and privation do not just describe the mere presence or loss of some property. Rather, possession and privation refer to the list of essential capacities that promote an organism’s well-being.

Privation, then, only marks when an organism lacks something it is supposed to have for its proper function.

Now, if an animal has the capacity to possess a property, but does not, then it either does not possess it yet, or it is at a stage when it should possess it, but does not.

A newborn, for example, might not possess teeth, but that is because it has yet to grow them. If an adult animal is supposed to possess teeth, but never developed them, then it suffers from deprivation, not privation.

So, by way of examples, although deprivation and privation are closely related, they are different in the following senses:

For example, if a metal is supposed to possess the property of magnetism, once developed this property, and later lost it for some reason, then it suffers from magnetism privation.

If an animal is supposed to possess teeth, once developed it, and later lost it for some reason, then it suffers from teeth privation.

If adult persons who are supposed to possess heterophilic libido, once developed this property, and later lost it for some reason, then they suffer from heterophilic libido privation.

Similarly, if adult persons who are supposed to possess the capacity to get pregnant, once developed this property, and later lost it for some reason, then they suffer from pregnancy privation.

So, privation refers to the absence of a property that an entity should have possessed, and it once possessed it, but it does not have it now, because it has lost it for some reason.

As such, examples of essences are capacity to get magnetised, capacity to get teeth, capacity to get heterophilic attraction, and capacity to get pregnant.

Essences are the capacities something has in virtue of being a member of a kind. When they are actualized they give rise to the existence of real properties as spatial-temporal realities.

They are objective facts that we discover rather than invent; they refer to what things can do or become. And they play an important role in ONL because they provide a metaphysical explanation for why something is the kind of thing that it is.

On the other hand, deprivation, as opposed to privation, refers to the absence of a property that an entity should have possessed but it never possessed that property.

For example, if a metal is supposed to possess magnetism, but never developed this property, then it suffers from magnetism deprivation, and not magnetism privation.

If an animal is supposed to possess teeth, but never developed this property, then it suffers from teeth deprivation, and not teeth privation.

If adult persons who are supposed to possess heterophilic libido, never developed this property, then they suffer from heterophilic libido deprivation, and not heterophilic libido privation.

Similarly, if adult persons who are supposed to possess the capacity to get pregnant, never developed this property, then they suffer from pregnancy deprivation, and not pregnancy privation.

So, deprivation affects the essential properties of a thing, such as the capacity to get magnetised, capacity to get teeth, capacity to get heterophilic attraction, and capacity to get pregnant. It implies some sort of defect, but within the context of a given kind.

If, however, an animal is not the kind of animal that has the capacity to possess the property, then we cannot talk about it as either suffering privation or deprivation.

For example, a snake doesn’t possess legs, not because it lost them along the way or because something went wrong during maturation, but because it is not the kind of animal that has the capacity to possess legs. Thus, it neither suffers from privation nor deprivation.

In short, possession, privation, and deprivation all indicate a normative component in development. An essential property is not just present or absent; it is an indication of some success or failure of the individual organism with respect to the kind of organism it is.

The figure below shows a chart that graphically summarises the differences between possession, privation, and deprivation.

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Based on these distinctions between possession, privation, and deprivation, we can now explain how ONL utilizes a functionalist understanding of sex organs to morally condemn homosexual pedication.

We use essential capacities to describe and evaluate organs in terms of functions. A heart is not just an organ, but an organ that pumps blood. This description is bound up with an evaluation because we are describing what something is by what it does.

If a heart fails to pump blood well, then it is a bad heart, rather than just a statistically unusual heart. In failing to pump blood well, a heart does not perform as it should and suffers from privation because it only weakly possesses the function it should have.

As we saw in section one, essences organize and order various capacities toward achieving a particular end. A kidney has the capacity to filter waste from blood and to form urine.

While we can discern these specific functions, the kidney unifies each individual function toward an ultimate end of removing waste from the body.

If one of my kidneys filters waste well, but never developed the function to form urine, then it possesses the function of filtering waste, but suffers from deprivation in respect to forming urine.

Individuating these subordinate functions clarifies what, exactly, prevents the organ from fully functioning toward the unifying end.

The ONL philosophers contend that sex organs also integrate multiple subordinate functions toward a reproductive end. This is to say that in ONL, sexual activity is defined by function and its primary function is that of reproduction.

If sex organs fail to achieve this procreative function, then they either suffer from deprivation or privation. A fertile adult who loses his genitals in an accident suffers from privation, because he can no longer exercise the procreative function.

A permanently sterile adult suffers from deprivation because she never developed the procreative function that she was supposed to during puberty.

The crucial point, then, for ONL sexual ethics, is that the unitive capacity to form intimate bonds with someone draws on the physical capacity to reproduce, meaning that coitus is only procreatively unitive.

This is to argue that the unitive good depends on the reproductive good because it is the reproductive aspect of sexual intercourse that makes intercourse a unitive act.
In metaphysical terms, this is to say that, the unitive component of sexual acts depends on the procreative teleology of sex organs.

To understand this point, recall that essences integrate a set of capacities in an organism to work together for some end. This teleological cooperation enables a man and woman to become one biological organism during generative sex because they are united in a single action oriented in the direction of an end.

Thus, this biophysiological unity grounds the unitive aspect of sex because it enables the two-as-one organism to strive toward the reproductive end of sex.

This reproductive end instantiates a morally transcendent good because while a man and woman may experience the unitive goods of intimacy during sex, this cooperative teleology goes beyond the man and the woman since the attainment of the end is procreation of a new person.

Some philosophers of ONL frame this conclusion around the point that organisms flourish when they actualize their essentially prescribed ends, or at least do not frustrate them.

They do not claim that people need to have sex in order to flourish, since, vows of chastity forego sex, but do not frustrate, the use of sex organs and can still contribute to our well-being.

On ONL's view, then, if people do have sex, they cannot morally act in a way that is inconsistent with the unitive and procreative ends of sex because those ends are what make sex good.

Against this background, we are now in a position to state why ONL arguments disapprove of homosexual pedication in terms of deprivation and recognize some evaluative differences among ONL views.

Since homosexual pedication fails, in principle, to be generative, it is as a result unable to confer the unitive good on either partner or create the two-as-one organism that strives toward the unitive and transcendent procreative end of sex.

If the generative good of sex is what grounds the unitive goods of sex, then homosexual pedication categorically fails to be unitive.

In the extended defense of what is popularly called “the perverted faculty argument” some philosophers of ONL assert that if an organism flourishes when it pursues its essentially prescribed end, then decisions to act inconsistently with those ends are disordered and cannot contribute to an organism’s well-being.

Several theoretical differences aside, we can recognize some common ground for all philosophers of ONL. First, homosexual pedication is incapable of reproduction. Second, the unitive goods of sex depend on participating in potentially generative acts. If homosexual pedication fails, in principle, to be generative, then it cannot actualize any of the unitive goods of sex.

These failures are instances of deprivation because homosexual predicators are unable to realize the procreative, and as a result unable to realize unitive, ends of sex even though they are at a stage in their lives when they should be able to participate in them, the ONL consensus holds.

From this understanding, we can now successfully argue for the conclusion that ONL philosophers do not have to morally condemn homosexual pedication because there is a viable interpretation of the ONL theory that permits homosexual pedication.

The argument is based on the Aristotelian distinction between “possession, privation, and deprivation.” Let us now proceed to show how this distinction establishes a crucial metaphysical point about essential properties.

We will introduce an argument from analogy to refine how we understand essential properties in terms of sub-categories.

The strategy is to rework how ONL philosophers have evaluated homosexual pedication by identifying a constituting principle that explains and evaluates what it means for something to belong to one category, X, rather than being a defective member of a different category, Y.

In other words, we want to develop an account, where we can still accept the metaphysical claims about possession, privation, and deprivation, without being committed to condemning homosexual pedication.

Framing the discussion around acts, rather than identities, will also help us focus on the moral reasons people have to participate in those acts.

The intended conclusion is that, if homosexual pedication can actualize body-self integration, a mutual sense of psychological intimacy, care, and closeness for those involved, then people have moral reasons to foster those unitive goods, as understood by both the ONL and New Natural Law (NNL) philosophers.

The argument from Analogy is as follows: The function of bark is to protect the tree and transmit nutrients. Bark that does not protect the tree or transmit nutrients is bad bark; the tree fails to grow, withers, or dies.

Cactus trees, however, have a green bark, which helps them photosynthesize, in addition to protecting them and transmitting nutrients.

Brown bark does not photosynthesize, and so we either have to say that it fails to perform this additional function to photosynthesize, or that bark constitutes a genus, where green and brown bark are each a separate species.

Now, nobody thinks that brown bark fails to photosynthesize, but suppose we did. We would have to say that, in failing to photosynthesize, brown bark suffers from either privation or deprivation.

If brown bark were to suffer from privation, then, at some point in time, it would have been photosynthesizing, but no longer does. But brown bark never stopped photosynthesizing because it never started.

Since brown bark never matures into the ability to photosynthesize, it does not suffer from deprivation because it never was supposed to photosynthesize in the first place. So, we are left with the other disjunct: bark is a genus with green bark and brown bark as separate species.

As a genus, bark has the function of protecting the tree and transmitting nutrients. We could evaluate each species of bark as different sub-kinds of bark.

Since green bark is the kind of bark that has the capacity for this additional photosynthesizing function, we can evaluate it on how well it photosynthesizes, say, in terms of privation, deprivation.

If brown bark does not, as a category, have the capacity to photosynthesize, then we cannot say that it fails when it does not perform this function.

But, since both brown bark and green bark belong to the bark genus, and that genus was constituted by the function of transmitting nutrients and protecting the tree, then we could still evaluate either kind of bark as good or bad in terms of performing those genus-level functions.

Building up the analogy, we can hold that sex acts between human beings form a genus with different species: fertile phase sex and infertile phase sex.

The bark analogy shows that if we only rely on the genus bark, then we have to say that brown bark is deficient. But brown bark is not deficient because it is just not the kind of thing that has the capacity to photosynthesize.

In order to get the right answer about bark, we draw more refined categories. Similarly, if we rely on the “genus level” to understand human sex acts, then we will get the wrong answer for what is properly a question about “species.”

Consider each species. Green bark, qua species, formed a new sub-category that had the additional capacity to photosynthesize. If green bark did not photosynthesize (e.g., blight, defect during development), then it suffered from privation or deprivation.

Fertile phase sex, qua species of the sex act genus, has the capacity to be procreative while infertile phase sex, qua species of the sex act genus, does not.

But, just as we didn’t evaluate the brown bark as failing when it didn’t photosynthesize, so too should we not fault infertile phase sex for failing to procreate.

If human sex acts form a genus, then any human sex act has a unitive capacity. This unitive capacity would still let us evaluate casual sex in either species as failing to actualize it.

Some philosophers argue that while a perfectionist account of morality does not have to condemn casual sexual relationships, his Aristotelian perfectionism evaluates casual sexual encounters as realizing a negative value because they miss out on the greater goods of friendship, companionship, and intimacy.
Human beings that failed to develop or demonstrate this unitive function would be suffering from either privation or deprivation.

Some ONL philosophers might object that even if we accept the distinction between green and brown bark, we can’t say the same thing about human sex organs. The brown bark physically can’t photosynthesize, but adult human sex organs can physically beget or conceive.

Their unitive capacity notwithstanding, the deprivation still obtains. I will develop two responses that meet this objection.

Let us call the first “The Local Function Response” and the second “The Limited Function Response.” Later, I will also show how these responses also provide resources to address NNL concerns about disintegration and unitive reasons to have sex.

The Local Function Response: As we have seen so far, we understand local functions in terms of how they work in service of the whole. In Section One, we discussed how essences organize and order an organism’s various local functions according to a unifying principle that is unique to that organism with respect to the kind of organism it is.

That principle also explains that unity as a constitutive feature of belonging to a specific category or sub-category. In the case of bark, we don’t just look at the ability to transmit nutrients or photosynthesize, we have to understand how a function works toward helping the whole tree depending on the kind of tree that it is.

In Section Two we saw that there were a few different ways that ONL philosophers explained the unitive goods of sex. One commonality, however, was that generative acts enabled people to experience a range of unitive goods such as companionship, closeness, friendship, intimacy.

But the unitive goods of sex also have to depend on another psychological capacity to process those experiences as unitive goods.

If this unitive capacity enables someone to experience the unitive goods of sex, and people experience those goods only when they have generative-type sex, then the unitive goods depend on people participating in generative-type acts, rather than a particular historically anchored subjectivity.

This unitive capacity further helps explain why people participate in generative-type acts in the first place: in order to desire participating in those acts, someone also has to desire the bodies that make those acts possible.

If this unitive capacity orders the local reproductive functions of sex organs toward a shared conjugal end, and it also evaluates sexual acts in terms of unitive goods, then it outranks the procreative function of sex organs by directing them toward a unitive end.

Part of what it means to have unitive desires toward people of the same sex is to preclude this reproductive capacity.

But, if the unitive capacity is what constitutes the new sub-categories of human sex acts, and constitutive principles take priority over the local functions of other organs, then we have to look at how the local function of sex organs work toward the end of the constitutive principle.

If the capacity to form unitive bonds with people of the same sex both constitutes the new category and, as a unitive capacity, takes precedence over the local function of sex organs, then the issue is not whether sex organs themselves (fail to) function in terms of privation or deprivation, but whether the function of those sex organs fulfill the larger unitive capacity.

The ONL objection was that, unitive capacity notwithstanding, sex organs could still beget or conceive. But this objection only looks at the local function of sex organs in isolation, rather than how those organs work toward what unifies the whole organism.

In this case, we look at how the functions of sex organs work towards the end of the unitive capacity. I am not claiming that this unitive capacity defines what it means to be a human being.

Rather, if we accept the argument from analogy, we can then divide human sexuality up into different (sub)categories, where we can use the genus-level unitive capacity as a way to constitute and consequentially organize those (sub)categories.

The ONL objection fails because it either focuses on the local function of sex organs in isolation, or, because it promotes the local function of those sex organs over the unitive capacity.

If we focus on the local function of sex organs in isolation, instead of how they contribute to the whole, then we have to revise how we understand functions and wholes.

Alternatively, if the local functions of sex organs do outrank the unitive capacity, then ONL philosophers have to readjust the moral value of sex that is procreative, but not unitive: it may be less fulfilling than sex that was both procreative and unitive, but it would not itself be an undesirable end.

If, however, we accept the argument from analogy, we could conclude that while every human sex act has a unitive capacity, there are different categories that reorganize how we understand the functions of sex organs in relation to that unitive capacity.

The Limited Function Response: The “limited function response” starts with a new argument from analogy. The function of a wing is to fly. Baby eagles or crows do not suffer from privation or deprivation because they will grow into an animal that is capable of flight.

But if adult eagles or crows have a defective wing or injure it, then they suffer from privation or deprivation. Ostriches and emus, however, are both birds and both have wings, but neither can fly.

Neither ostriches nor emus suffer from privation or deprivation from being unable to fly because they are not the kind of bird that is capable of flight, even though they are the kind of animal that can have wings.

If we talk about wings without qualifying which kinds of birds we are talking about, then we are looking at the “wrong level” for the function; the genus instead of the species.

If we talk about wings as a genus, then we can say that, on the genus level, wings have a stabilizing or courtship function. This genus-level trait means that ostrich-wings and emu-wings are not homonymous wings because they have a stabilizing function.

If we divide wings into species, then we can more accurately talk about the respective function of a wing for each kind of bird, (e.g. flying birds, non-flying birds).

So far, we have just paraphrased the same argument about green and brown bark in terms of wings. But we can now identify a third species, between birds that can fly and birds that cannot, that we could not before.

Some birds can fly, but not very far. Chickens use their wings for stability and for flight, but they can only go about forty feet—not because their wings are underdeveloped or defective, but because wings, for chickens, are only supposed to sustain the shorter and limited kind of flight.

So, chickens, in comparison to other flighted birds, can fly, but to a lesser extent. The “chicken” sub-category reorganizes the function of a flighted wing toward a different, though related, end (i.e. short distance flight). The Figure below is a diagram for the new classification.

1705223856930.png


The new analogy is that sex organs in individuals with a homophilic unitive capacity can still physically procreate, but exercise this function in a circumscribed way.

The organizing principle of the category (i.e., the homophilic unitive capacity), directs the function of sex organs in a different way than the organizing principle of a different category (i.e., the heterophilic unitive capacity).

The physical ability to reproduce is constrained by the organizing principle of a category, but can still be realized, (e.g. through IVF).

So, just as the chicken wing was not hindered by any developmental problems or by any scarring accident, so too is the physical ability to reproduce in people with a homophilic unitive capacity not diminished by any developmental or traumatic issue.

This difference is neither a shortcoming for people who engage in homosexual pedication nor some other kind of failure to perform what people who engage in heterophilic sex can do in the same way that a chicken is not failing to fly the same distances that an eagle or crow is.

If chickens do not suffer from privation or deprivation because they cannot fly as far as the other kinds of flighted birds, then we can conclude that people with a homophilic unitive capacity are not suffering from privation or deprivation because they cannot reproduce in the same way that people with an heterophilic unitive capacity can.

In short, just as each species of wing relied on a different organizing principle to explain the local functions of those kinds of wings, so too can we say that the unitive capacity for homosexual pedication and heterophilic sex provides different organizing principles for understanding the local functions of sex organs, in a way that exonerates homosexual pedicators.

4. Methodological critique

That having been said, at this point, I want to offer a methodological critique against the SECAM letter.

I want to do this by first making a distinction between philosophical argumentation versus religious argumentation, which can be distinguished in terms of Aim, Point of departure, Argumentation strategy, Common arguments, and Addressees as follows:
  • Aim: The aim of philosophical argumentation is for searching after the Truth while the aim of religious argumentation is for preserving the truth;
  • Point of departure: The Point of departure in philosophical argumentation are basic beliefs or common truths with suspicion while The Point of departure in religious argumentation are Participants who are true believers and credible interpreters of the scripture.
  • Argumentation strategy: The most often used strategy in philosophical argumentation is refutation while in religious argumentation ample quotations from the scripture are needed.
  • Common arguments: Common arguments in philosophical argumentation are "syllogisms" and "Toulminian structures," while in religious argumentation the common arguments are arguments from scripture, a kind of "argumentum ad verecundiam"
  • Addressees: Philosophers address the “sober, discreet and autonomous audiences”, while in religious argumentation the addresses are “the religious faithful" and potential convertees.
Given that, questions on the social institutions of "marriage and the family" are universal topics which cut across different religions and social segments, the SECAM letter was expected to approach the topic from both religious and philosophical angles.

This has not happened. It simply quotes the Bible to support outdated positions. This is not good enough in the third millennium.

The strategy of copying and pasting scriptural verses, without furnishing them with some scientific and philosophical facts is no longer attractive to the modern world.

VI. Discussion, conclusions and recommendations

When it is not raining its is difficult to know where the roof of a given house leaks. But, when it rains, leakage points become conspicuous. This has happened in so far as the roof of the Catholic Church in the world is concerned.

By listening to what the Catholic Bishops are saying we have made new discoveries.

First, some African bishops still believe that, Africa, as opposed to the non-African wolrd, is immune from genetic disorders of sexual development. This is a prescientific mindset which has kidnapped the minds of our bishops. They need scientific liberation.

Second, the reactions against and for Fiducia Supplicans has revealed a very big Rationality divide amongst Catholic bishops.

According to the standard account of medieval theories of animal cognition, rational human animals and brute nonhuman animals differ in at least one crucial regard of rationality as opposed to non-rationality.

Some bishops have proved to be highly rational when interpreting the Vatican document while others have scored very poorly on the rationality scale. Most African Bishops appear to belong to the non-rationality side.

Three the dissenting African bishops appear not to accept the historically proved power of science as a solvent of irrational cultural and religious beliefs, norms, values and practices both in Africa and beyond.

The truth of the matter is that, while science cannot dissolve all cultural and religious beliefs, norms and values, it often does up to a certain level when a certain scientific, religious and cultural equilibrium is reached.

In short science has both positive and negative impacts on religion and culture, which are innevitable.

Four, the African Bishops have fallen victims of a category mistake which blinds their eyes to the extent that they cannot distinguish between the “heterosexual category” and “non-heterosexual categories.”

Because of this mistake they appear to carelessly impose heterosexual standards of sin and repentance which are meant for heterosexual humans on non-heterosexual humans.

And five, we have realised which bishops are more catholic and who are not, who are true followers of Jesus and who are merely acting.

As such, one way of summarizing my essay, is to point out that, Catholic Bishops have failed to remember that their obsession with what they call "homosexuality" is is not supported by the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

In fact, Jesus never said one word against what we call "homosexuality" today. He never labelled any social group as a "social garbage" as we have recently witnessed some Bishops speaking.

In all of his teachings, Jesus uplifted actions and attitudes of justice, love, humility, mercy, and compassion. He condemned violence, oppression, cold-heartedness, and social injustice. Never once did Jesus refer to what we call "homosexuality" as a sin.

Specifically, it appears to me that, the Catholic Bishop's obsession with "homosexuality" can only be explained in terms of the priestly celibacy policy, which is an institution-specific policy that has nothing to do with the general public morality.

That having been said, I wish now to point out that, the SECAM letter is more ambiguous than Fiducia Supplicans. It is even more problematic for its failure to realize that “the question of non-heterosexuality” is not a theological problem, but a scientific one.

Theologians have their limitations just as philosophers and scientists do. The demarcations should be determined and respected, as we struggle to formulate public policies which will benefit from both science and theology.

Specifically, it is a Machiavelistic strategy to impose heterosexual norms to non-heterosexual human persons. This heterocentric theological tyranny, bullying, demonising, and oppressing non-heterosexuals and their defenders should stop now.

And to this end, as a matter of public policy and legislation, non-heterosexuals can, and should be protected by doing the following:
  1. To review our laws so as to register citizens by their proper sexual identites, either as males, females, homosexuals, intersexuals, or transgenders, where the relevant authority should be empowered to seek medical advice that will support her decisions with respect to sexual identity assignment.
  2. To review our marriage act so as to criminalise heterosexual pedication.
  3. To review our marriage act so as to decriminalize non-heterosexual pedication and
  4. To legally deny marital status to non-heterosexual unions.
  5. To legally assign civil union status to non-heterosexual unions.
  6. To make sure that the laws of the land state clearly that "non-heterosexuality" is not a crime, that any non-coital sex amongst non-heterosexuals is not a crime, and that heterosexual pedication is a crime.
  7. To constitutionally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation
  8. To legally criminalise discrimination based on sexual orientation, except in accordance with the laws of the land.
  9. To legally bar theologians from trespassing into the scientific and philosophical domains to demonize non-heterosexuals without any valid Scriptural warrant.
  10. The African Union should coordinate these legal and constitutional reforms across Africa in order to counter the unwarranted evil agenda of demonizing non-heterosexuals across Africa, which is currently being perpetrated by some religious denominations.
VII. Disclaimer

The author of this essay is heterophilic, and hence does not qualify as a potential beneficiary of the argument herein and the proposals thereof. Instead, the author is motivated by the desire and quest for a just society that treats equally individuals who are equal and treats uneqally individuals who are unequal but based on objective standards.

VIII. Essay Authentication

The essay has been prepared by:

Dr. Mama Amon
The CEO
Dawati la Utafiti la Mama Amon (DUMA)
SLP P/Bag
"Sumbawanga"
Tanzania

Mama Amon's thought processes are products of training and mentorship under The Radical Academy. She is a Master of Descriptive Philosophy, a Master of Normative Philosophy and a Doctor of Applied Philosophy. She is a mentee of the late Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty.

Mama Amon is hereby using her education in statecraft to serve her country with zeal and without fear, favour, dishonesty or hypocrisy. She often uses the online library having about 10 million free books. It is called z-library.

The Radical Academy is a project of the Center for Applied Philosophy, being a Think-Tank in Cyberspace, operating from Oregon State University, in the USA.
 

Attachments

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Wakati ukristo na umisionari ulipo ingia huku kwetu hauku ondoa utamaduni na mila zilizo njema mahali huo ukristo ulipokuwa unaenezwa.

Hii ilipelekea watu kuupokea ukristo kwa kiasi , huku wanasali na huku wanadumisha utamaduni wao na walirithisha hivyo walio wafuatia hadi kufikia sisi.


Kuna vitu au mila au tamaduni dini na ukristo ulitukuta nanyo, hivyo ndio vilikuwa utambulisho wetu hata sasa hivyo dini na ukristo hauwezi kututenganisha navyo.


Barua ya SECAM ipo sahihi kuutetea na kuulinda utamaduni wetu ambao kwa ujumla wake ndio ubinadamu wenyewe, asili (nature) ambayo tuaweza kusema ndie Mungu mwenyewe ilisha amuliwa na ikawekewa mkazo kwamba mwana ume anabaki kubwa mwanaume na majukumu yake ya kiume yanatekelezeka kwa urahisi, kadhalika na mwanamke pia.


Inapotokea kinyume na asili ndio Crisis kama hizi zinaibuka na kuiweka imani na dini rehani.




Sote tu wadhambi kwa mujibu wa mafundisho ya imani, kwamba kitu chochote afanyacho mtu hali akijua haimpasi kufanya hivyo hio ni dhambi.

Na dhamiri huelekeza kabisa kwamba haupo sawa, na hata asili hukuambia haupo sawa.


Hakuna kiumbe chochote kinachotaka kugombana na asili hivyo kila anaejikuta amehitilafiana na asili mara moja hutafuta kupatana nayo , kiimani hio tunaweza kusema ni toba.



Hawa wenzetu ni tofauti kabisa na wengine ambao wamehitilafiana na asili, wakati wengine wakinyenyekea kurudi kupatana na asili yaani kutubu, hapa ni wezi, wala rushwa , wafisadi , waongo, wazinzi, wauwaji na wengine wote wanahukumiwa na dhamiri na kutafuta toba ili kurejea katika kawaida wenzetu hawa wao wanajivunia na wanataka kutambulikana na kupewa nafasi na kueneza hilo tatizo lao kwa jamii nzima .

Hawakumbuki kutubu, kunyenyekea wala kujutia bali wanaona fahari.


Kwa hili papa tunatumaini hakufikiria kwa mapana yake ukubwa wa hio statement yake mwishoni mwa mwaka ule wa 2023.



Sauti ya Mungu ama nguvu ya asili itaendelea kuibuka kila mahali ikiwepo baraza la Maaskofu Afrika na madagaska.



Tuombe nguvu na uzima
 
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