Fr. Lombardi: Pope Did Not Give Blessing to Ugandans Backing Death Penalty

Spokesman Responds to Media Reports on Officials Seeking Capital Punishment for Homosexuals

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2012 ( Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, on Thursday denied media reports that Benedict XVI gave a blessing to a Ugandan dignitary visiting Rome.

The media attention came in the context of criticism that members of the Ugandan government are receiving for promoting capital punishment for homosexuals.

In answer to a question from the press, Fr. Lombardi recalled the Holy Father’s stance on the death penalty and affirmed that a greeting with the Pope is in no way a sign of papal approval of policies.

Rebecca Kadaga was one of several Ugandan deputies who were among the thousands of visitors who attended Wednesday’s general audience. Kadaga has said that she’s in favor of punishing homosexuals with capital punishment.

Father Lombardi stressed Church teaching on the death penalty, as indicated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Vatican spokesman also clarified that “relations with the delegation were not outside the normal framework and there was no blessing.”

“The group of Ugandan delegates greeted the Pope, as did many other persons who attended the audience with the Pope, which in no case is a specific sign of approval of the actions or proposals of Ms. Kadaga,” Father Lombardi said.

The draft law in question was severely condemned by Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kampala who recommended “a benevolent Christian focus.”

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