Prominent Jesuit magazine America has published an editorial condemning the recent wave of anti-gay laws in African countries in its latest issue, which features a cover story on LGBT individuals and the Catholic Church. “Tragically, we live in a world where people are not only judged harshly for their sexual orientation but are also targeted and punished for it,” the editorial reads, citing laws in Uganda and Nigeria that mandate 10 years or more in prison for LGBT men and women and their supporters.
The editorial specifically calls out the failure of African leaders of the church to speak out against these laws:
It is especially disturbing that such legislation is immensely popular in predominately Christian countries like Uganda, where 40 percent of the population is Roman Catholic and the Catholic bishops have sent mixed signals about the legislation. When the bill was first considered in 2009, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala, speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops’ conference, said it was “at odds with the core values” of Christianity. When the bill was reintroduced in 2012, however, the Uganda Joint Christian Council, which includes Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox bishops, expressed support for the bill. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, meanwhile, has praised President Goodluck Jonathan for his “courageous and wise decision” to sign the new law in that country.
“It is not inconsistent,” the editorial continues, “to support traditional marriage and to oppose these measures, which are unjustifiable assaults on the human rights and inherent dignity of gay and lesbian people… Christian concern for preserving the traditional institution of marriage cannot justify these excessive and punitive measures, which extend far beyond simply codifying a definition of marriage.” Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that “every sign of unjust discrimination” toward LGBT men and women “should be avoided,” the magazine urges church leaders to strongly advocate for the decriminalization of homosexuality.
Two things to keep in mind: First, America has been censured by the Vatican in the past for its content, and in 2005 its editor-in-chief was forced to resign on the orders of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. On the other hand, the magazine landed the first interview with Pope Francis (a Jesuit himself) after he became the leader of the Catholic Church.