Pope Francis Defends Blessing LGBTQ+ Couples—and Everyone; And More News

Pope Francis on Italian television program “Che Tempo Che Fa”

The debate over Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican’s declaration allowing blessings for couples in “irregular” situations, continues unabated. In posts today and tomorrow, Bondings 2.0 reports on the latest developments. Today’s post focuses on the Vatican.

Pope Francis Responds to Critics

Pope Francis commented on Fiducia Supplicans for the first time since the declaration was released in mid-December. Asked during an Italian television interview if he ever felt alone, the pope noted the resistance to blessings as one instance of feeling alone. Reuters reported on his comments for the “Che Tempo Che Fa” program:

“‘Sometimes decisions are not accepted, but in most cases when decisions are not accepted, it is because they are not understood,’ Francis said in response to a specific question about the December declaration.

“‘The danger is that if I don’t like something and I put it (the opposition) in my heart, I become a resistance and jump to ugly conclusions. . .This is what happened with these latest decisions on blessings for all. . .’

“‘The Lord blesses everyone. . .But then people have to enter into a dialogue with the blessing of the Lord and see the path that the Lord proposes. We (the Church) have to take them by the hand and lead them along that path and not condemn them from the start’.”

Earlier this month, some observers saw viewed the pope’s comments at Mass on Epiphany Sunday as a comment on the blessings situation. As reported by  Crux, he said: “We need to abandon ecclesial ideologies to find the meaning of holy mother church, the ecclesial attitude. Ecclesial ideologies no, ecclesial vocation yes. . .Let us set out anew from God; let us seek from him the courage not to lose heart in the face of difficulties, the strength to surmount all obstacles, the joy to live in harmonious communion.”

Cardinal Parolin: Blessings Debate Is “Always Good”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, affirmed that the debate over Fiducia Supplicans is “always good” because “The important thing is that we always proceed according to what is called ‘progress in continuity.'” He added, per UCA News:

“‘In the church there has always been change. . .The church of today is not the church of 2,000 years ago. The church is open to the signs of the times; it is attentive to needs that arise, but it also must be faithful to the Gospel, it must be faithful to tradition, faithful to its heritage. But if this upheaval helps us walk according to the Gospel in responding, then it is welcome.'”

Responding to a journalist’s question about resistance from African bishops, Parolin added, “This document has provoked very strong reactions from some episcopates. . .It means that a very, very delicate, very sensitive point has been touched upon that will need serious follow-up.”

Blessings for LGBTQ+ Couples Could Happen at Vatican

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, said same-gender couples would be welcome to receive a blessing in the church. At a press conference, Gambetti emphasized that, while no requests had been made, should a couple do so, they would be blessed “to show the world the maternal face of the Church and in line with what the Pope asked for.” Gambetti added, per Il Messagerro,The underlying theme is the Church’s closeness to people in whatever situation they find themselves in.”

Leaders in Eastern Catholic churches, which are in communion with Rome, have emphasized that the declaration does not change their practices, for the declaration only applies to the Latin church. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Bishop Kurt Burnette of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersey, each issued statements in this vein, claiming the different rites have equally different understandings of what blessings are and mean.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, January 17, 2024

2 replies
  1. Glenn Slocum
    Glenn Slocum says:

    The force of the opposition expressed, especially from African bishops in group, requires Francis to reply with greater insistence, first rhetorically and later by applying disciplinary measures. This could entail some risk to his papacy. Is he willing to take this risk on?

    • JP
      JP says:

      A synodal church implies taking the time to convince rather than condemn and punish. We, LGBTQIA+, of all people, should be able to understand this, notwithstanding our eagerness to expedite this process. Unfortunately we cannot convince people faster than they are ready to be. I know the frustration… But the most important is the safety of the kids growing up: how do we ensure the fastest path to their growing up in a (relative) sense of safety and early signs of acceptance, including in places like Africa.


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