Tuilaepa comments on Pope's same marriage support

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has joined the debate on Pope Francis’ call for a law to recognise same sex civil unions, saying it was not made in his capacity as the Head of the Catholic Church.

As such, the church’s faithful were not obligated to follow it.

He said Samoa remains opposed to same sex marriages and the Pope’s comments was based on his general belief on the matter and the announcement was not made from his throne as the head of the church. 

The Pope’s comments on same sex marriage were “miscommunicated” by journalists, Tuilaepa further claimed, and added that the papal statement was made to put an end to the discriminating behaviour directed at homosexuals.

He said homosexuals’ beliefs and feelings should not be belittled, on the basis that they were also made in God’s image and the spirit of the Lord still exists in them.

Tuilaepa called homosexuals “our neighbours” and reminded the public that God’s greatest commandment was to love God and your neighbour.

He added that discriminating against a homosexual does not reflect Christian principles, and contravene the teachings of the Bible which proclaim love for each other just as you love yourself.

“His statement was in particular to the homosexual in governments who have allowed same sex civil unions and are still being hated and constantly being pointed the finger,” Tuilaepa said.

“It does not mean it particularly relates to the fa’afafines in Samoa. What [Pope Francis] was saying is that people should not belittle homosexuals. Their beliefs and feelings should also be respected.”

The Prime Minister, who is also the patron of the Samoa Fa’afafine Association [S.F.A.], also called for the group not to be patronised.

“They are not gay – they were just born that way,” he emphasised.

Early this week, the S.F.A. President Alex Su'a told the Samoa Observer that same sex union is not a priority for the association and its members.

He said that the recent endorsement of same sex marriages by the Catholic Church’s global head has had no effect on the local fa’afafine population, since the conversation on same sex marriage was never on the agenda in Samoa.

Instead, Mr. Su’a called for the focus to shift to pressing issues such as domestic violence, sex-related diseases and health services.

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