ROME — Pope Francis has doubled down in his support of blessing gay couples, calling those who oppose the practice “hypocrites.”
“I don’t bless a ‘same-sex marriage’; I bless two people who love each other and I also ask them to pray for me,” the pontiff told the Italian weekly magazine Credere this week.
Just before Christmas, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, under the leadership of Argentinian Cardinal Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández, reversed the Vatican’s position on blessing gay couples.
From a “strictly liturgical point of view,” a blessing requires that what is blessed be conformed to God’s will, affirmed the Vatican Declaration Fiducia Supplicans, whereas from a pastoral point of view this need not be so.
Under a broader, pastoral understanding of blessings, “one can understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage,” Cardinal Fernández stated in his presentation of the Declaration.
In an earlier declaration of March 2021, the Vatican declared that the Church has no authority to bless homosexual unions, because God Himself “does not and cannot bless sin.”
Blessings require “the right intention of those who participate” as well as “that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation,” stated the text, published with the express approval of Pope Francis.
“The decision is already almost universally being interpreted as approving the blessing of sexual sin.” https://t.co/5MOTMQ2cMa
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 30, 2023
“For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage,” it read, “as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”
While forbidding the blessing of gay couples, the 2021 text explicitly allowed for the blessing of individual persons, even those who commit grave sins, according to the Church’s long-standing practice.
The rejection of the possibility of blessing a homosexual couple “does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching,” the text declared.
In this week’s interview with Credere, the pope seemed to confuse these two issues, as if some people have a problem with blessing persons with homosexual inclinations.
“Nobody is scandalized if I bless a businessman who exploits people, but they are when I bless a homosexual,” he said, adding that this is “hypocrisy.”
There has been widespread resistance to the Vatican’s volte-face on the question of blessings for homosexual couples, notably from the Pan-African Bishops’ Conferences, who stated in a joint declaration: “In Africa there is no place to bless homosexual couples. Not at all.”
For his part, Francis asserted that he people who are “vehemently protesting” the decision to allow the blessings “belong to small ideological groups,” while adding that in the case of the African continent is “special,” because for them, “homosexuality is something ‘ugly’ from a cultural point of view; they do not tolerate it.”
The bishops of Africa “are now being condescendingly portrayed as culturally conditioned,” responded Dr. Nina Heereman, professor of theology, “while we fail to ask ourselves to what extent we are the ones succumbing to the pressure of the culture around us.”