John Cardinal Onaiyekan

Human existence is guaranteed by the coming together of a man and a woman to form a union known as ‘marriage’, the basic unit of the society.

The family is God’s building block in the Church, the mosque and the world at large. If there will be fullness and fulfillment in our individual lives, it will depend on the love, peace and togetherness in our families.

John Cardinal Onaiyekan
John Cardinal Onaiyekan

A healthy relationship in the family is not only beneficial to the immediate members of the family, but also to those directly associated with that family and, by extension, to the society in general.

Obviously, the mutual understanding between parents and their siblings is capable of leading their children and their contemporaries into a lasting relationship with God and enduring progress in life.

In recent times, family, as ordained by God, has been facing serious threats, owing to human activities.
Marriage is under attack from strange doctrines, emanating from the various faiths and beliefs, especially human rights fundamentalists across the world.

The agitation by the activists gave birth to a law to redefine marriage in some countries, including the U.S., as “the lawful union of two persons”, instead of between man and woman.

This development compelled the Catholic Family to take a firm stand that “marriage must be sacred”, saying, “The process of bringing to life is not just a physical thing, it is spiritual”.

The Church warned that “the importance of marriage for children and for society” is under attack in U.S. courts and legislatures and in popular culture and entertainment media, which “often undermine or ignore the essential role of marriage and promote equivalence between marriage and homosexual relationships.”

In 2000, the Dutch Parliament voted to recognize same-sex unions as marriages; the passage forced Pope John Paul II to break his silence and denounced the decision.

The pope said, “No other form of relationship between persons can be considered as an equivalent to this natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love children are born.”

Also, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, in an interview with Sunday Vanguard shortly after a seminar on issues relating to family rights organised by the Holy Family Society, Abuja, explained that “the expression of the same sex marriage is meaningless, because marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and where there is no man and a woman, there is no marriage, call it whatever you like, but don’t call it marriage.”

Onaiyekan went on:“That is my own position all along, and I have told my friends in the National Assembly that marriage; marriage is between a man and a woman, that is our law.

“So, any two persons who decide to mess around themselves, be it two men or two women, they are messing around, they are not married and let them not ask to be respected as married people.

“Even this democracy, which is based upon the dictatorship of the majority, but we know that the majority can be wrong, because we have seen how the laws are passed in the countries abroad, on the basis of majority, and they passed laws that are clearly against human interest.

“It was taken for granted that marriage is between a man and a woman. Therefore, there is this anti-family propaganda out there, there are people we don’t know their intention and what definitely they are going to gain by destroy family?

“We, in the Catholic Church, believe in the principle of God; human being may change, environment may change, but God remains.

“The propaganda against family is vigorous, powerful and well funded; they have strong influence in the United Nations, UN agencies and other international agencies, as well as in many western nations, nations where they have removed God from their public things.”

The cleric, at the seminar, urged people to oppose a redefinition of marriage that includes same-sex partners.
The man of God said people thought that Nigeria is backward, because the country values its culture that recognises marriage and the virtue of good family, irrespective of religions or backgrounds, saying, it is not so.

He urged that people should forget that things were going on well in the nations or countries that had thrown away the principle of God, adding that they had ruined their society but try to patch it up to deceive some people.

“Our people and our country have good view about marriage, never mind the question of polygamy or others, but, as far as the family is concerned, our family must be strong, we want to take care of our family, we want to marry properly, and for those who are supposed to marry, but they have not, their families will be asking them question, what is happening?

“And we ought not to think that we are backward, rather we should thank God, because it’s value in our culture that we ought not to throw away, because those who have thrown it away have already destroyed their society; never mind the fact that they have government policy to look after children who have no family, but the more the society throws children out into the street, even though you are giving them assistance, the more the society will become difficult to manage.”

Onaiyekan decried love of materialism that made people unable to reason on those things that made them display insanity all in the name of fashion.

Speaking on the misconception of Pope Francis’s message on homosexualism, Onaiyekan said, “As for the pope, there is no way people can take whatever the pope said to mean that is changing the position of the Church on this matter”.

He explained that the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care.

According to him, “I can imagine that the pope did not want to get involved in this discussion, which often take over the attention of the press, and therefore diverts the attention of the press from other things.

“Pope didn’t want anything to distract him from other important issues like corruption, about good governance, peace in the world, and focus attention on same sex marriage which actually affects a minority people. Going by statistics how many people or Nigerians want same sex marriage? We have other problems which need to be addressed.”

Onaiyekan maintained that the Church in Nigeria had already formed a group to see from what part of the country, where anti-family legislations are being proposed, with a view to nipping them in the bud.

“We have already on ground and they have also mentioned it that a group should emerge, but there is a monitoring group on ground that is monitoring what is happening at the National Assembly,” he said.

Earlier, a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Mr David Osunde, proposed that the body will “act as think-tank that would provide legislative support to the drafting of laws that will protect family rights and promote family values in our country.”

He made it clear that “for us to make such body active, recognisable, and useful to the Church and the society will depend on what level of sacrifices the members of such group will put in individually.”

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