No African Bloc

Among the many dynamics at the synod, one could note the difference of perceptions between bishops from different cultures. Some Western prelates seem to be of the view that synod fathers from Africa are impeding progress on questions that are important in their region—for example, the church’s outreach to gay and lesbian people or those who are divorced and civilly remarried. Some African bishops, on the other hand, say that the synod’s working document reflects a too-European perspective. Asked about this alleged tension on Oct. 8, Archbishop Gabriel Palmer-Buckle of Ghana said, “[African bishops] are not here to block anybody. We are here to share what we have as a value to the greater good of the universal church.” He noted that the working document speaks mostly of “the nuclear family,” but in Africa there is also the reality of “the extended family.” He said that whenever a church in one part of the world has a problem, it is also a concern for the whole universal church, since the church is a family.

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