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Pakistan Catholics clarify pope’s remarks on homosexuality

A Pentecostal pastor and media are questioning Pope Francis’ criticism of laws criminalizing homosexuality
A screen grab of a video posted on Christian TV Pakistan's You tube channel

A screen grab of a video posted on Christian TV Pakistan's You tube channel. (Source: Christian TV Pakistan)

Published: March 08, 2023 12:21 PM GMT
Updated: March 09, 2023 04:06 AM GMT

Catholic leaders in Pakistan are explaining the Church’s position on homosexuals and human dignity after a Pakistani protestant leader’s intemperate remarks on Pope Francis’ criticism of laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust.”

“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” the pope reportedly said during an interview with The Associated Press in January adding that God loves all his children just as they are.

He further called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) people into the church.

However, Pastor Jamil Nasir, the Canada-based national head of the Church of Pentecost in a video titled “Fatwa [religious edict] by Pope Francis” wondered if the pope was promoting homosexuality.

“The church is pressurized, they have bowed down. Our future generations will be destroyed. The agenda is to end the family unit,” Nasir said in another video posted on Facebook.

Speaking to UCA News, the pastor also criticized Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, over the Church of England’s decision in February to allow same-sex couples to receive God’s blessing by coming to church after a civil marriage or civil partnership.

“We cannot be an affirming church. Neither religion nor society accepts it,” Nasir said asserting his total rejection of the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church's life and ministry.

The Pakistan media also questioned Pope Francis’ stance as he denounced criminalizing homosexuality.

In a television show, presenters interpreted the pope's words as acceptance of homosexuality and claimed independent scientific research would prove that homosexuality can be cured.

The Catholic Church was prompted to explain the papal stand as homosexuality is a taboo subject in the conservative Islamic country where LGBTQ people are forced to live in secrecy and constant fear of exposure.

The Catholic Bishops Commission for Catechetics (CBCC) posted a series of statements on Christian morality and human dignity on its Facebook page.

“Small churches use such statements to convert Catholics. They seek opportunity for such propaganda,” said Emmanuel Neno, executive secretary of the CBCC.

Neno said Nasir and like-minded evangelical pastors quote from the Bible to openly condemn people with homosexual tendencies while Muslims, who follow Sharia, also react strongly on the issue.

“They don’t understand what the pope is saying. It is difficult to speak about homosexuality in our context,” he said referring to the Islamic nation, where some even advocate death for same-sex couples.

Last week, Lahore Archdiocese’s Catholic TV released a video in response to the flurry of allegations against the pope.

“We had been getting repeated calls to respond to the ‘Fatwa video.’ We don’t favor homosexuals but condemn killing them,” Jasber Ashiq, director of Christian TV Pakistan, said

Ashiq also reminded that Nasir, who has a huge following in Pakistan, had earlier labeled the pope as the “beast in Revelation” but being Catholics, they had exercised restraint.

“We were boiling inside and had to think long and hard and choose our words very carefully for the video statement. Our faith helps us to resist the cultural pressure from society,” he told UCA News.  

Homosexual people also face attacks in the Islamic-majority nation.

Last month, Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor Marvia Malik survived a gun attack outside her residence in Lahore.

Transgender rights activists say associating them with homosexuality has endangered their community in Pakistan.

Section 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code defines ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ as punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment for a period of two years to life.

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