The Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) is poised to discuss and resolve contentious issues of same-sex marriages and abortion at the synod’s forthcoming biennal conference, the synod’s general secretary Reverend Alex Maulana has said.
“It is a fact that some clerics have been criticising how we are handling these issues. That is exactly the reason that we must discuss all these matters so that we build a consensus on how we face the future,” Maulana said in an interview last week.
The general secretary said the church’s position on same-sex marriages is based on the Bible, which describes it as a sin, while the stand on abortion is that life begins at conception.
Said Maulana: “[However], we are an inclusive society. Therefore, we do not condemn those that indulge themselves in these, but we strive to offer both spiritual and psychological support.
“What we are expecting from the church is for it to preach the message of love, non-exclusion and non-discrimination. The church should be there for everyone regardless of their status or sexual orientation. It should offer refuge to the poor, the most neglected and the hated in society. We are, therefore, expecting sober discussions on sexual minority issues and recommendations that will offer hope to the oppressed,” he said.
He said the synod will in August this year hold its biennial conference where, among other issues, the church will seek to build consensus on its approach towards these two controversial issues.
The synod’s leadership was criticised in 2015 when it refused to be in solidarity with its sister synods of Nkhoma and Livingstonia which severed ties with the Church of Scotland over homosexuality issues.
Last year, Maulana also courted criticism when he backed the Termination of Pregnancy Bill at a two-day consultation meeting in Mangochi.
Some clerics within the synod alleged that their GS was presenting his personal opinions as if they were the position of the church.
A reverend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the church had compromised a lot on the issues, which he argued were not in tandem with the principles on which the synod was built.
“The direction which we have been taking as a church with regard to homosexuality and abortion is a wrong one. That is why there have been voices of discontent on how the synod is handling these matters,” he said.
Various clerics, including Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP general secretary Reverend Levi Nyondo, in October 2016 distanced themselves from remarks Maulana made in his capacity as chairperson of the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), accepting a proposed law which gives girls and women new grounds for terminating pregnancies.
The country’s existing law allows only pregnant women whose lives are in danger to obtain an abortion.
In December 2016, members of various religious groups in the country and some faith-based organisations held street demonstrations against abortion.n