A French priest has claimed that, in a private meeting, Pope Francis approved of the priest’s work blessing same-gender couples.
Fr. Daniel Duigou made his comments in a televised interview with Konbini News. Duigou said he had a 45-minute meeting with the pope, adding there was “no problem” between the men. Of the conversation’s content, he said:
“Immediately [the pope’s] first question was: ‘So, do you bless the divorced and remarried?’, which is one of the great questions today in the Church. . .And I say to him: ‘And I listen, and I bless them and I also bless homosexual couples.’ And he answers: ‘Yes, because blessing means God thinks of the good of the [human person] and God thinks well of [all people].'”
Asked by the interviewer to confirm this means Pope Francis supports blessing same-gender couples, Duigou replied, “Yes, absolutely.” The priest also clarified that blessings are not about marriage, and referenced the pope’s “Who am I to judge?” remark as evidence of Francis’ more pastoral approach toward lesbian and gay people.
Duigou recently published a book that is a follow-up to his meeting with the pope, titled Lettre Ouverte d’un Curé au Pape François (An Open Letter from a Priest to Pope Francis). The book is a treatise on reforming and renewing the Catholic Church. In one spot, Duigou wrote to the pope:
“You are already doing a lot for the Church of tomorrow. The increasing number of resistance at all levels of the institutions proves it! The important thing is for the Church to start again. How? As for Saint-Merry [Duigou’s parish], it is a question of returning to the time of experimentation, apart from any clerical logic. . .Change is the responsibility of the whole people of God.”
The priest also suggests that the laity be given more space, that pastoral letters should bedecided on by priests and laity, men and women together, and that the role of the priest be redefined such that he is simply a faithful among the faithful.
Like previous reports on conversations with Francis, it is nearly impossible to verify Duigou’s claims. The Vatican tends to not comment on private meetings, and the pope has has never public statement in support of blessing same-gender couples.
That said, the idea of extending blessings to all people seems consistent with Francis’ papacy. Indeed, Pope Francis may have quietly provided his own blessing for a same-gender couple last year when a letter was sent to a gay couple on the the occasion of the baptisms of their adopted children. In 2015, he received Bishop Jacques Gaillot who had been removed by Pope John Paul II from the French diocese he oversaw, in part because he blessed a same-gender couple.
What is clear is that, once again, Pope Francis and other church leaders have left the people of God in a one-sided conversation. If Pope Francis did make the statement that Duigou reported, then the pontiffshould have the courage to proclaim publicly what he affirms in private. LGBT ministry should no longer be done in the shadows, but in the light of honesty and authenticity. That applies for the pope, too.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 10, 2018