WelCom February 2024
Pope Francis responded publicly to questions about the Vatican’s declaration on blessings for same-sex couples for the first time in a television interview in January.
In an appearance on an Italian talk show, the 87-year-old Pope was asked if he ‘felt alone’, after the publication of Fiducia Supplicans was met with some resistance.
‘Sometimes decisions are not accepted,’ Pope Francis replied. ‘But in most cases, when you don’t accept a decision, it’s because you don’t understand.’
The Pope underlined that ‘the Lord blesses everyone’ and that a blessing is an invitation to enter into a conversation ‘to see what the road is that the Lord proposes to them. The Lord blesses everyone who is capable of being baptised, that is, every person.
‘But we are to take them by the hand and help them go down that road, not condemn them from the beginning,’ he added. ‘And this is the pastoral work of the Church. This is very important work for confessors.’
The Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 18 December declaration made it permissible for priests to offer non-liturgical blessings for couples in ‘irregular’ situations, including same-sex couples, noting ‘that it offers a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings, permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings.’
Following widespread backlash from bishops’ conferences in Africa and Eastern Europe, and strong denouncements from some of the Church’s senior prelates, the Vatican’s doctrine office issued a five-page press release on 4 January to provide clarification on the document, writing that its application will depend ‘on local contexts and the discernment of each diocesan bishop with his diocese’.
Pope Francis also responded to questions about the declaration on same-sex blessings during a closed-door meeting with 800 priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Archbasilica of St John Lateran.
According to Vatican News, the Pope said the Church’s doctrine on the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman has not changed and that ‘people are blessed, not sin’.