Editorial: Missing the Message on Same-Sex Blessings

priest making a blessing

Currently, there are many things that should be at the forefront of people’s minds: wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, climate change and its effects, the upcoming United States presidential election—just to name a few. On that list, however, should not be who is worthy of a blessing. Yet that is exactly what grabbed the headlines last December. 

That is when the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Francis, released the declaration Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust). In the document, the dicastery and Pope Francis addressed the blessing of same-sex couples, a question they said has been posed by cardinals a number of times. The words same-sex couples and blessing together in any context are trigger words for some. People hear them together and minds shut and defenses go up, even before reading the document. We live in a world where we read headlines and think we have the whole story. We don’t. We need to go beyond the headline. 

In the introduction, Cardinal Víctor Fernández, prefect of the dicastery, notes that the document “implies a real development from what has been said about blessings up until now, reaching an understanding of 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.” 

Pope Francis and the dicastery made it very clear—time and time again—throughout the document that a blessing is not the same as legitimizing a same-sex marriage. In fact, I’m not exactly sure how they could have made it any clearer. 

An Immediate Response

Yet, despite that, almost immediately there was pushback. The bishops’ conference in Malawi said that “blessings of any kind for same-sex unions are not permitted in Malawi.” Various bishops in the United States issued statements regarding the document. And though most welcomed the document, some also restated Church teaching as if to head off any backlash. 

A few weeks after the release of the document, the dicastery doubled down on the statement’s message, saying that “prudence and attention to the ecclesial context and to the local culture could allow for different methods of application, but not a total or definitive denial of this path that is proposed to priests.” Whether that directive is followed, however, remains to be seen. 

More Blessings, Not Fewer

The reality is, though, no matter how many statements are issued or what the dicastery or Pope Francis says, there are still going to be clergy and laity who will equate a blessing for a same-sex couple with somehow affirming same-sex marriage. It does not. Yet, trying to make people understand that seems to be a Herculean task. The British province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy issued a statement saying, “We see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval.” 

So it doesn’t appear as if anyone—not even Pope Francis—is going to change people’s minds, no matter how many times it’s stated that blessings are for all and don’t change Church teaching. I will challenge you: Read the document. And read it with an open mind and heart. 

Perhaps Cardinal Fernández said it best when he wrote: “This world needs blessings, and we can give blessings and receive blessings. The Father loves us, and the only thing that remains for us is the joy of blessing him, and the joy of thanking him, and of learning from him . . . to bless. In this way, every brother and every sister will be able to feel that, in the Church, they are always pilgrims, always beggars, always loved, and, despite everything, always blessed.” 

Certainly, that’s something we can all get behind.

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3 thoughts on “Editorial: Missing the Message on Same-Sex Blessings”

  1. If blessings are for all, why did they need to say anything? They could already bless individuals. The only reason to state this was to push the agenda a little farther along.

  2. Asdeer Streams

    Another piece of propaganda pushing an agenda, and not one argument included on why same sex couples should be blessed based on the teachings of Jesus. The Catholic Church under this Pope has lost its way.

  3. If Pope Francis is guiding us away from “Christians” like the first two commenters of this blog, I’m happy with the direction we are headed. Viva il Papa!

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