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In Pope’s Homeland, Ex-priest Leaves Church Over Gay Unions

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A former priest and LGBTQ activist who has blessed same-sex unions in Pope Francis’ home country, Argentina, is leaving the Roman Catholic Church after the Vatican issued a pronouncement this week that priests may not perform such blessings.

Andrés Gioeni delivered a letter disavowing his faith to the bishopric in a Buenos Aires suburb on Wednesday, the anniversary of his ordination as a priest in 2000 and two days after the declaration from the Holy See.

“I do not want to continue being an accomplice to this institution, because I realize the harm they are doing to people. I am not renouncing my faith in God but rather I am renouncing a role and a rite,” said Gioeni, 49.

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He spoke in an interview with The Associated Press at the home he shares with his husband, 50-year-old Luis Iarocci, and their three dogs, a few blocks from the cathedral in San Isidro north of the capital.

READ ALSO: Outrage As Pope Backs Same-sex Civil Unions

Like other LGBTQ Catholics, Gioeni was shocked by Monday’s proclamation, which argued that clergy members cannot bless same-sex unions on the grounds that they are not part of the divine plan and God “cannot bless sin.”

The Vatican says LGBTQ people should be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered” and same-sex unions are sinful.

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The declaration from the Holy See’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was authorized by Francis, who prior to assuming the papacy supported legal protection for gay people in civil unions in the country as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“There is no mention in any book (of the Bible) of consensual love between two people of the same sex and God telling them no,” said Gioeni, who has blessed at least four such unions.

Born in Mendoza province some 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) west of Buenos Aires, Gioeni pursued a religious vocation as a young man despite being tormented by doubts about his sexuality. He even “outed” to his superiors three fellow seminarians who had confessed attraction to him.

“All throughout seminary I was terribly homophobic,” Gioeni said. “It was a defense.”

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READ ALSO: Pope Francis: ‘I Weighed Iraq Virus Risk But Believe God Will Protect’

After ordination he rose quickly in the provincial church, while secretly exploring chatrooms for the local gay community. He had his first sexual encounter with another man, broke it off to continue the priesthood, but then saw the man again. Gioeni told the bishop he needed to leave.

The church did not offer him psychological help, just a room next to the organ of the Buenos Aires cathedral where he was to confront his supposed crisis of faith.

“That was my descent into hell. … There I realized that I was considered like the Hunchback of Notre Dame — a defective being who could not go out into the world because he would be criticized and singled out,” Gioeni recalled.

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Gioeni’s superiors became aware of his sexual identity in 2003, when he appeared nude on the cover of a gay magazine, and barred him from exercising priestly ministry.

He studied acting and worked as a waiter in a disco, where he met Iarocci. Together for 17 years now, they wed after Argentina became the first Latin American nation to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010.

In recent years Gioeni has become an LGBTQ activist lobbying for a more open Catholic Church.

Severing formal ties with the institution doesn’t change his faith in God, he said.

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READ ALSO: Amid Pandemic, Pope Goes To Iraq To Rally Fading Christian

“I continue believing in God and He will be my God. In that, my spirituality is unchanged,” Gioeni said. “I no longer have a label. ‘What religion are you?’ I believe in God.”

(AP)

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Man, 38 Escapes Assassination Attempt In Benin

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Innocent Omoruyi

By Omokha Andrew

A 38-year-old activist, Innocent Omoruyi, narrowly escaped assassination in the early hours of Wednesday, July 19, 2023 as his residence at Obe Community,Sapele Road in Benin city was attacked by yet to be identified gun men.

The attack which eye witnesses say was viciously executed on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 bore the markings of a dreaded cult group terrorizing Benin City, the state capital.

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The Obe, Sapale Road incident, it was learnt, happened soon after Omoruyi left the house to attend to matters of interest some few metres away from his home.

The assailants were said to have shot sporadically in their frustration as residents scampered for safety.

However, Omoruyi escaped unharmed.

One of the eye witnesses who craved anonymity said: “The felons apparently went for the kill, weilding guns and other dangerous weapons. “We are shocked that they didn’t see Innocent Omoruyi who was just some few metres away from home when they arrived”.

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“How that happened, only God knows and it was obvious that it wasn’t his time to die yet and just before that not long ago his business place on Lagos Street, Benin City was burnt down in the middle of the night by unknown arsonists.

“This sequence of events is not ordinary. We know it’s politically motivated due to the role he played in the last general elections. He has been advised to go into hiding at the moment for his personal safety”, he concluded.

When contacted, the police Public Relations Officer Chidi Nwabuzor said he was yet to get any information as regards the latest incident. He promised to feed our correspondent with relevant details as soon as they become handy.

Our information source however revealed that the matter has already been incidented at the Love World Police station on Sapele Road, Benin city.

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Nigeria To Earn Over $4bn Revenue As FEC Okays Concession Of Abuja, Kano Airports

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Nigeria will earn over $4 billion in nominal revenue as the Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday okayed the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, to the Corporacion American Airport Consortium, a Luxembourg-based company.

James Odaudu, the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

According to him, the Council also approved that the Federal Ministry of Aviation would be renamed the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace.

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READ ALSO: ATMs To Be Upgraded For Loans Services As CBN Gives Banks Ultimatum…

The statement noted that the company would make combined upfront payments of $8.5 million for the concession of NAIA and MAKIA.

He added that the development would spur evidential growth within the Nigerian aviation industry.

In alignment with the Aviation Roadmap, approved by Mr President on 18th October 2016, the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace is delighted to inform all stakeholders, both local and international, and the media, that the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano has been approved by the Federal Executive Council,” the statement said.

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READ ALSO: Peter Obi, LP Must Pay N1.5million To Access Documents – INEC

In December 2022 and January 2023, Corporacion American Airport Consortium was announced as the preferred bidder for the airport’s concession after scaling through a series of evaluations of technical and financial bids.

Nominal revenues mean income not adjusted for inflation and decreasing purchasing power.

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Russia Expelled From Council Of Europe Amid War With Ukraine

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The Council of Europe says it has expelled Russia with immediate effect after 26 years of membership because of the Ukraine war.

The Committee of Ministers took the decision in a special session, the rights body announced in the French city of Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Earlier, Russia had already declared its withdrawal from the Council of Europe after it had taken steps to exclude it.

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On Tuesday evening, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted unanimously in favour of Russia’s exclusion.

Russia joined the Council of Europe on Feb. 28, 1996.

Together with the formal notification of the withdrawal, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe also received information from the Russian Federation on Tuesday about its intention to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the leaders of the Council of Europe once again condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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READ ALSO: Ukraine: Horror As Russian Forces Shoot People Queuing For Bread

They expressed their solidarity with the Russian people, who continue to belong to the European family and share its values.

The body said it would continue to stand by Ukraine in the fight against the aggressor.

The Council of Europe monitors the observance of human rights in its 46 member states and is not part of the European Union.

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The body reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago by suspending Russia’s membership, this decision was considered historic.

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