Catholic bishops call on Malawi’s government to imprison gays

Pope Francis meets with Catholic bishops from Malawi.

Pope Francis meets with Catholic bishops from Malawi.

Malawi’s Catholic bishops have issued a joint pastoral letter that condemns the government for not imprisoning gays and lesbians. In 2012 then-Malawian President Joyce Banda announced the suspension of the country’s laws criminalizing gay sex and the bishops want it enforced.

“We agree with those who have faulted the Government for putting a moratorium on laws governing homosexual acts. This means that those guilty of homosexual acts or unions cannot be prosecuted,” the bishops wrote. “The Government has bowed down to pressure from donor community, international bodies and local human rights campaigners. As Pastors, we find this path very unfortunate. It is an act of betrayal on the part of those in power to sell our country to foreign practices and tendencies contrary to the will of God because of money.”

While Pope Francis has been lauded in the media for striking a more conciliatory tone on the issue of LGBT rights, bishops worldwide have not heeded his call for tolerance and have faced no repercussions from the Vatican. American church leaders regularly rail against homosexuality and use insulting language to describe gay relationships and transgender people. In the Dominican Republic, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez has repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to refer to gay American ambassador James “Wally” Brewster and his husband. The Vatican has so far refused to rebuke the Cardinal despite repeated complaints by the Obama administration and the LGBT community.

“While we do not condone homosexual acts or unions because they are sinful, however, we wish to condemn in strongest terms those inciting violence against homosexuals and those guilty of homosexual acts or unions,” the bishops conclude. Prisons worldwide are notoriously dangerous for gay and transgender inmates who are often targeted for physical abuse and rape.

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