Kenya’s cardinal determined to be in the thick of the synod action
ROME — As a young man, Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya, became adept at both boxing and karate. He says those skills in the martial arts are “still very useful for me,” especially “when I am provoked.”
Njue, 71, is taking part in the Oct. 4-25 Synod of Bishops on the family, and while he’s not throwing any literal punches, he’s brought the same fighting spirit to this gathering of 270 bishops from around the world.
Here, for example, is Njue’s take on calls at the synod for a more compassionate approach to gays and lesbians.
“It is there in the Bible,” he says, referring to the Church’s teaching against homosexuality. “It is clear.”
“I think there is not much option,” Njue said. “There are facts, such as the fact that God created humanity as Adam and Eve. Whenever someone starts running away from their identity, whatever they do will certainly not be the right thing.”
“If we come to the point of saying that can be changed, there is no logic behind it, with all due respect,” he said.
Njue spoke to Crux on Friday during a break in the synod action.
Even while rejecting the idea of criminalizing homosexuality, Njue still insisted on the right of the Church to flag gay relationships as flawed.
“Where there is a mistake, a way must be found to help people who have made the mistake to understand that they have done something wrong and need to turn around,” he said.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in 38 of Africa’s 53 nations and punishable by death in four. In 2014, Uganda made it punishable by life in prison and declared the “promotion” of homosexuality a crime.
Africa’s Catholic bishops have sometimes been accused of either ambivalence or silence with regard to such measures, but Njue rejected those charges.
“It’s not a question of criminalizing or condemning, but we have every right to help the person understand that the way you are living is not how you’re supposed to be,” Njue said.
One of the most fascinating bits of subtext to the last Synod of Bishops on the family in October 2014 was the emergence of the African bishops as protagonists, in general holding the line in defense of traditional Catholic teaching.
While it’s a different group in Rome this time, and there are clear differences among them on some points, Njue is indicative that several Africans still remain a potent counterbalance to some of the progressive forces at the 2015 synod.
For instance, he’s not sold on the idea of allowing controversial matters such as giving Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to be decided at the local level, rather than imposing a universal decision from Rome.
“We are talking of the only, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church,” Njue said. “If we start operating one way in Africa and another way in Europe and so on, then the image of the Church is distorted.”
“The family is at the basis of society, and it’s also at the basis of the Church, so if there is a unified understanding of what the family is all about, then I think we have nothing to lose,” he said. “If there is any form of diversion, it can be very dangerous for the future.”
Njue urged his brother bishops to remain “firm and united.”
He also echoed Pope Francis’ complaints about “ideological colonization,” meaning efforts by Western governments and NGOs to tie development assistance for poor nations to the adoption of family planning initiatives or permissive laws on sexuality.
“Let us not swallow things just because they have come to us,” Njue said, saying African nations must ask, “Are they truly safe and positive, or are they meant as a subversion?”
He said Kenya is currently a case in point for the effects of ideological colonization.
“They are trying to introduce family planning in the primary schools in Kenya,” he said. “You can be sure it is not something that is originating from Kenya, but is being pushed from outside, which is a pity.”
Njue also bristled at suggestions, recently voiced by former Irish President Mary McAleese among many others, that a group of celibate males doesn’t have any business discussing family life.
“I didn’t come from upstairs,” he said, “I was born in a family!”
Njue told a story to illustrate that he’s no naïf when it comes to the pain families can experience. When he was just three or four, he said, he watched his father beat his mother. When he asked his mother later why it happened, she told him to go to his father and ask.
“I stayed a good distance away, but I asked him why he had beaten my mother,” Njue said. “I could hear his roar start, and by the time it finished I was a mile away.”
Yet from that point forward, Njue said, his father was a “different man,” no longer violent with his mother.
Given that background, and his strong convictions, it’s clear that Njue doesn’t intend just to sit on the sidelines of this synod, but wants to be in the thick of the action.
“We know that our understanding of the family is in danger as we speak, because there are so many ideologies that come in, [such as] individualism and secularism,” he said.
“This is why I feel this synod comes at the right time, so the Church can come up with a way of strengthening the identity of marriage and the family.”
Father, why are you thanking God for the Africans? We have Pope Francis in complete, total, absolute charge of everything. Don't you trust him to defend orthodoxy. Sorry I had to put that in there, it did cause me to laugh a little.
If you remember the last synod the pope decided to include those filthy sections on accepting inate goodness in active homosexual relationships even though the majority of the bishops DID NOT want it included. It's a good guess that Francis already has made up his mind, written the final document and could care less what anybody else has to say. All of Cardinal Kasper's proposals will be accepted so get used to it. Satan is being allowed his final hour. But God will not be mocked. What is going to come after this is going to be terrible. We have a pope who placed a communist crucifix on the altar of the Mother of God. We have a pope who as archbishop told those living in adultery to go ahead and receive Holy Communion without confession or amendment of life. So guess what he is going to allow now that he holds complete power. He may win now but God will have the final say. He is not returning as a little baby this time. He is coming back seated on a throne in majesty with all the angels as JUDGE. It's not going to be pretty.
Gosh, Anonymous....you must have God's cell phone number.
Fr, McD....I think that the chances of the Church electing a black Pope are about the same as the Republican party selecting a black presidential candidate.....zip
What we could really use is some African American Cardinals....
African Cardinals and bishops are speaking out on Magisterial teaching with great clarity; this is juxtaposed with many European Cardinals and bishops who are not.
This is astounding, since the Catholic church in African exists in no small part because of the efforts and great work of European missionaries. How great and glorious is it in how the Holy Spirit was working through these selfless apostles of the Faith, and continues His work they facilitated even unto our present time.
Of what relevance to the positions they take on same sex issues is the cultural context of bishops from different parts of the world, specifically the legal context of almost universal criminalization of same sex relationships in Africa, and not only de-criminalization but legalization of same sex relationships in the United States and many other developed countries?
A2 not sure what you are asking or implying. I suspect most faithful Catholics don't like seeing a dual personality as it concerns morality, meaning the schizophrenic approach to things in the secular world and the approach to things in the religious world.
For example, killing is criminalized in most civilized parts of the world with gradations according to motive and passion or even accident. I can be charged with manslaughter by accidentally killing someone. A person who hires to kill someone in Georgia gets the death penalty whereas the one who is for hire and kills get life in prison with a chance of parole in 20 years.
Mothers and doctors and abortion workers get away with murder in our civilized society.
At one time, sodomy, so repugnant to civilized and moral citizens was a crime because of its unnaturalness.
At least the Church is consistent in its moral laws although it doesn't recommend criminal procedures to secular society but neither does she recommend that the natural and moral laws of God be ignored or substituted with ungodly ideologies as we have in the USA and other so-called more civilized nations in the west as compared to the "dark" continent.
GOB the first Tuesday of November next year will tell all about a African American becoming the next Republican president or vice President.
I think Archbishop Wilton Gregory had a chance to become a cardinal either in Atlanta or in Chicago but the scandal of his humongous several million dollar home in Atlanta and just for him I think earned him the title of Archbishop of Tara and not a complementary title for Pope Francis and his austerity kick. Archbishop Gregory is stuck as archbishop and in Atlanta.
Anon 2, Biblical truth and Church doctrine trump culture. Sodomite relationships are abominations for Christians in any culture...or didn't you get that message.
I am not sure what I am asking or implying either. I am just trying to explore the larger context to see what, if any, relevance it may have. For example, wouldn’t moves towards further acceptance of same sex relationships within the Catholic Church put the African bishops in a very difficult position in their home countries, because in effect they would be told to accept or even encourage something that is regarded as criminal behavior, sometimes even carrying the death penalty? And correspondingly doesn’t this in turn put Pope Francis as the leader of the universal church in a correspondingly difficult position in dealing with pressures from both sides? Moreover, doesn’t it behoove those bishops from more liberal societies who are pressing for greater acceptance of same sex relationships within the Church to be sensitive to the sorts of difficulties and constraints faced by their African brethren? By the same token, how could the African bishops move towards greater acceptance given these constraints even if they wanted to? I suspect the same sort of issue is faced in the Church of England and other denominations with a global presence.
Well then, the African Bishops have nothing to worry about, then. That is good. I wish our country took a dimmer view of gays. Those Bishops who push for a greater acceptance of gay relationships have nothing to say to the African Bishops.
Oh please, Anonymous, yes I got the message – Catholicism 101. I was trying to have an intelligent conversation about practical realities (as to which please see my previous post).
For example, I suspect that even the current formulation of the teaching of the Church on homosexuality as set out in the CCC may put the African bishops in a very difficult position in their home societies because it would seem to preclude criminalization of same sex acts and relationships. This is the challenge in being a universal Church with global presence.
P.S. I should clarify—the message I am referring to is the message about Biblical truth and Church doctrine trumping culture. I would not adopt your own inflammatory language in discussing it, however.
20 YEARS ago, NO one was talking about gay marriage. In fact, in most places, open homosexuality was still banned or restricted. The secular west has been changing at a rapid pace while the rest of the world has not, thus the disconnect.
The secular west is also the sexual revolution. Centralized government via bureaucracy, a permanent underclass kept in thall, bread and circuses - all together with porn, drugs, sex.... after all, promiscuity and drugs break up the family and the family has long been the enemy of central absolutist regimes and sexual libertines. It's the family thus that both have always fought to break up so as to "liberate' more fresh meat for both insatiable maws.
But it's long been my contention that despite both being prone to violence and abuse of power, neither are "strong" in the classic sense which is why they both tend to freak out when barely resisted. The proverbs would say the unjust flee when no one pursues them.
The other point is that Africa is a tough place. Lots of death, disease, struggle, war, famine, etc. so anyone who grows old there has seen alot and are probably not "soft". They are probably not the sort of folks readily cowed by bullies as they've committed and suffered genocides against each other. So in comes Boko Haram and does atrocities....and then....nothing. nothing at all on the news. Why? Because the Africans are starting to take out the garbage. The Muslims are doomed.
Now it's the secular west and gay's turn. They're doomed too in more ways than one.
1) science is catching up to their lies. Within 4 years their bedrock claims to get out of the DSM-3 will be exposed as based on wishful thinking. SSA is a condition that can be treated.
2) their bedrock theory of all bad things (homophobia) is being falsified as bad things continue to happen despite almost total social approval. 19-25 year olds who are gay have lived their entire emotional lives in an age of total gay-friendly schools, fortune 500, politics etc. they get medals for coming out. And yet all the quantifiable negatives (suicide, addiction, STIs, HIV, domestic violence, depression, etc.) continue to be far higher than the control population of their age group peers. Once they can no longer blame homophobia for their problems..... the wheels come off. It's the action, not 3rd parties' opinion about the acts that cause the problems.
3) STIs are exploding in the lgbtq population.
4) 20 years from now, this monolithic, seemingly impossibly strong monster of western secular hedonism will be dead or gone, simply replaced and out-reproduced by folk who never thought they were either intellectually or morally superior in the first place.
Y'all sure do talk about sex a lot.....
We talk about sex a lot because for the past 50 years this society has talked about sex a lot. The sexual revolution of the 1960s was a secular development, not a Catholic one. It's secular and worldly culture and not true Catholicism trying to radicalize human sexuality.
Gob, are you gay?
Somebody else asked Gob that question...where there's smoke...
I believe with the Church that sex lives are private and personal and kept in the bedroom. Where sin abounds it is held under the seal of Confession to a priest in the Sacrament not a tell all Dr. Phil exhibitionism.
I am not gay. I have been married to the same wonderful woman for 59 years. We have 7 adult children, 25 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
It's just my hunch that there is a good deal of talk about sex here because many of you suffer from deprivation of sex. I think such deprivation is unnatural and often leads to emotional problems. I favor optional celibacy and ordination of women.
GOB you are showing your age by your silly ideologies. The percentage of married men who sexually abuse their daughters is quite high as it is with men married or not who have sex with teenage girls or who look like teenagers. If you did prison ministry you would discover that the true pedophiles there were far from sex starved as most are married none are celibate. Do you really expect us to take you seriously or are you that naive at your age?
I didn't say a word about "sexual abuse", or "teenage girls"....wasn't even thinking of them. That was on your mind not mine. (Perhaps helping reinforce my point about deprivation) I don't mind showing my age. I am 83 years old. Take me seriously or not....it's up to you...I am not "naive at my age". I expect that I know a whole lot more about life and love and family and sex than you ever will....Happy Sunday....
Gob, To expand upon my 10:34 post: It is the secular culture that, 50 years ago, became utterly obsessed with sex. Look at advertising; the feminist movement; popular entertainment; the huge number of birth control court cases since 1965; the LGBT movement that began in 1969. All the Church has done is to react with the new cultural obsession with all things sexual. (The irony is that the sexually obsessed culture claims, as you yourself do, that its critics are the sexually obsessed ones.) We talk about it a lot here because the push by the world for Christianity to approve of birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage, divorce, and premarital sex is a) new (i.e. 50 years old), b) unprecedented in its degree, and c) irreconcilable with what Catholicism has taught since at least the Didache, if not before. Don't try to hang this one on the Church.
Well, Gob, if you are 83, perhaps it is time to become concerned about your apostasy as witnessed by many of your posts here. "Time's winged chariot..." you know.
God said that it was not good that man should be alone...He created Eve. All around the world, however, there are priests who are alone...who are desperately alone and lonely. I think that human beings need the love, companionship, intimacy of another special, devoted human being. And yes...that relationship should include sexuality. Of course it's possible to live without any of that...but it takes a toll...mentally, emotionally. Catholic priests live "without any of that"...(although there are stats that say that a great many do not). Most of the rest of the population does have that special beloved companion though. I believe the priests could better understand and serve them if they had someone too.
Please note, I said nothing about child abuse...by priests or anybody...
Anonymous (at 2:36 p.m.),
Leaving aside the question of Gob’s orthodoxy or that Anonymous’ point about reaction to the revolutionary changes in secular culture at 12:53 p.m. is well taken (are you the same Anonymous?), Gob does appear to have a kind and loving heart (which I am sure must find much opportunity for expression in his large and it seems lovely family). I find it difficult to believe that a loving God does not smile upon such a generous soul.
That may well be, but it isn't a Catholic soul. Gob either doesn't understand Catholic teaching (and as a corollary doesn't understand that that teaching is not designed as a downer or straitjacket but to liberate us), or he understands it and dissents from it anyway. That being the case, his salvation will be in spite of his beliefs and not because of them--at least if we take the teachings of the Church to be true.
Your statements are dangerous for several reasons. First, they're Pelagian. As long as one has good intentions, do good things, etc., then by those works one can save one's self or make God save one. Second, it's Indifferentist. Doesn't matter what one believes as long as one is a "good person" (whatever that is). (See encyclical Mirari vos, and also previous statement as to Pelagianism.) Third, it's a sentimental approach that sees doctrine as an obstacle to salvation rather than a proclamation of Truth and an aid to salvation. (See http://catholicism.org/sentimental-theology.html and also consider O'Connor's and Percy's observations that sentiment leads to the gas chambers). Fourth, it's relativist. If someone thinks or does objectively bad things but is motivated by good intentions, what would we say about him? On what would we base any condemnation--some moral standard that perhaps has no basis in Catholic thought? For instance, what if I aborted my Down Syndrome child because I wished to spare her a life of pain and suffering? Is that OK? Would I go to heaven _because_ I aborted her? If you can believe that, why can't I believe that killing other, already born persons may also have good consequences?
I'm sorry to unload on you like this. I understand and actually appreciate what you're trying to do. The problem is that if the teachings of the Magisterium have any basis in Truth at all, then your position, if adopted by others, overlooks or minimizes the danger to their souls. Maybe your views are, to a degree right--"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" is a prayer we should all do well to remember--but it's a safety net, a last gasp (almost literally). The Spirit blows where the Spirit will, and God may save whom he wants in ways he wants in acts of special providence, but the principal way is through the teahing and sanctifying ministries of the Catholic Church. I think that needs to be made clear.
Thank you for the clarifications. I am not sure that my statement is too much at odds with what you say. Your four reservations are covered by my “Leaving aside the question of Gob’s orthodoxy,” and it seems that you too would prefer to believe in an expansive understanding of salvation rather than a narrow one.
Does it matter if Gob is or is not gay? (He's not, btw). Is that your attempt at some kind of quasi ad hominem attack?
I think that human beings need the love, companionship, intimacy of another special, devoted human being.
You're certainly free to think that; you're also completely wrong, but I suppose that doesn't matter.
Just what does "an expansive understanding of salvation" mean? There is nothing more "expansive" than Christ's Sacrifice for our sins and His Unconditional Salvation. There is nothing that limits this unmerited salvation more than our concupiscence, willful disobedience, and unbelief...as witnessed by those who advocate an"expansive understanding of salvation" predicated upon what we would "prefer to believe."
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