Vatican issues 5-page explanation amid backlash to same-sex blessing leadership

The Vatican's doctrinal office released a five-page statement Thursday explaining last month's controversial “Fiduciary Supplicants” leadership, which caused an eruption of pushback from theologically conservative Roman Catholic prelates worldwide.

The office led by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández addressed the acceptance to the leadership while urging “a full and calm reading of the Declaration to better understand its meaning and purpose”, according to Vatican News.

“Fiducia Supplicans”, which was published by the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis on December 18, allows priests “to bless couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in . somehow the perennial teaching of the church on marriage.”

The Vatican advised, on the other hand, that “one should neither provide nor promote a ritual for the blessings of couples in an irregular situation.”

The leadership drew an adverse reaction from Catholic bishops, mostly in Africa and Eastern Europe.

Tomash Peta, who has served as metropolitan archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Mary in Astana since 2003, has gone so far as to publicly admonish the pope and ban any form of blessing for same-sex couples in churches under his authority.

In Kenya, the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops published a statement explaining that the new leadership “causes anxiety and even confusion among the Christians, and in general the people of God.”

The American Conference of Catholic Bishops emphasized that the declaration makes “a distinction between liturgical (sacramental) blessings, and pastoral blessings, which can be given to people who desire the loving grace of God in their lives.”

“The teaching of the Church on marriage has not changed, and this statement affirms that, while it also tries to accompany people by giving pastoral blessings because each of us needs the healing love and mercy of God in our lives”, the USCCB. statement reads

Nine bishops in France issued similar guidance on January 1 statement instructing priests that they are allowed to bless homosexual individuals but not same-sex couples.

Pushback from episcopal conferences worldwide “cannot be interpreted as doctrinal opposition because the document is clear and definitive about marriage and sexuality,” Fernández said in his explanation.

“There is no place to distance ourselves doctrinally from this statement or to consider it heretical, contrary to the Tradition of the Church, or blasphemous”, wrote the cardinal.

Fernández offered a “concrete example” of what a “non-ritualized form of blessing” would look like, noting that it should only be about 10 or 15 seconds and “is not intended to justify anything that is not morally acceptable.”

He emphasized that the informal blessing is neither a marriage nor an “approval” of anything in particular, but simply “a priest's response to two people who are asking for God's help.”

Such non-liturgical blessings may require more time for application “depending on local contexts and the discernment of each diocesan bishop with his diocese,” Fernández said.

“In some places, no difficulties arise for their immediate application, while in others it will be necessary not to introduce them, taking the time necessary for reading and interpretation”, he wrote.

Fernández, who also serves as a theological advisor to Pope Francis, recently claimed to the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost that the guidance was intended as a “clear response” to liberal bishops in Germany who wish to implement formal liturgical blessings for same-sex couples. , according to Catholic News Agency.

“It is not the answer that people in two or three countries would like to have,” Fernández told the German outlet of the leadership. “Rather, it's a pastoral response that everyone could accept, albeit with difficulty.”


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