Pope Francis has defended his decision to approve blessings for gay couples in Catholic churches.
In December 2023, the Pope approved the Declaration “Fiducia supplicans” issued by the Church’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document allowed priests to bless same-sex couples but “without any type of ritualization or offering the impression of a marriage.”
The Vatican clarified that the new ruling does not permit gay marriages or change the Church’s traditional teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
The Pope’s decision had led to a backlash within the church, with some Catholic Bishops in Africa refusing to bless same-sex couples.
‘The Lord Blesses Everyone’
The Pope spoke to Italian journalist Fabio Fazio on the TV show Che Tempo Che Fa on Sunday and answered a wide range of questions, including the opposition to the issue of blessing same-sex couples.
Asked if he feels alone when his decisions are met with opposition, the Pope replied, “Yes, as you say, when you make a decision, there is a price of loneliness that you have to pay, and sometimes decisions are not accepted, but most of the time, when decisions are not accepted, it is because they are not understood.”
Pope Francis said that instead of having “fraternal discussions” about a decision, some people hang on to their doubts, resist and “make ugly conclusions”
“This has happened with the recent decision about blessing everyone.”.
“The Lord blesses everyone, everyone. The Lord blesses everyone who is capable of being baptised, that is, every person. But then people must enter into conversation with the Lord’s blessing and see what path the Lord is proposing for them,” said Pope Francis, adding that the “pastoral work of the Church” was to “take them by the hand and help them to go down that road, not condemn them from the start.”
‘Culture Does Not Accept It’
In a closed-door meeting with 800 Catholic Priests from the Diocese of Rome on January 13, the Pope said that the ruling on blessings would not be “because the culture does not accept it,” reported Italian TV news channel Rai News 24.
On January 11, Catholic Bishops in Africa in a joint statement said that they rejected the Vatican’s declaration on blessings for same-sex couples.
The statement said that blessings for same-sex couples would cause a “scandal” and “confusion”, and “would be in direct contradiction to the cultural ethos of African communities.”