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Pope Francis: Blessings for same-sex couples are for the people, not the unions

Author: Trudy Ring

Pope Francis, facing backlash over his approval of blessings for same-sex couples, issued a clarification of sorts Friday, saying the blessings are meant for the people in the relationship, not the relationship itself.

The pope made the statement in an address to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department responsible for maintaining Roman Catholic doctrine.

“When a couple spontaneously approaches [a priest] and asks for them, he is not blessing the union, but simply the people who together have requested it,” he said, according to the Vatican’s official news site.

“Not the union,” he said, “but the persons, naturally taking into account the context, sensitivities, the places where one lives, and the most appropriate ways to do it.”

“Francis appeared to acknowledge the pushback the document [approving the blessings] unleashed, particularly in Africa, where bishops have effectively rejected it and where in some countries same-sex activity can lead to prison or even the death penalty,” Reuters reports. Bishops in Zambia and Malawi have already said no such blessings will take place in their countries.

The pope released the document, Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust), December 18. It stressed that same-sex relationships should not be considered equivalent to marriage and that any ceremony blessing them should not resemble a wedding. Despite these limitations, his announcement met with praise from Catholic LGBTQ+ groups and denunciation from church conservatives. The church teaches that same-sex intimacy is sinful and that Catholics who are attracted to members of the same sex should remain celibate.

In the Friday address, he pointed out, “These blessings, outside of any liturgical context and form, do not require moral perfection to be received.” They serve to “concretely show the closeness of the Lord and the church to all those who, finding themselves in different situations, ask for help to continue — sometimes to begin — a journey of faith,” he said.

Francis had previously defended and sought to clarify the approval of these blessings in an interview broadcast January 14 on the Italian TV program Che Tempo Che Fa. “The Lord blesses everyone,” he said at the time. “But then people have to enter into a dialogue with the blessing of the Lord and see the path that the Lord proposes. We have to take them by the hand and lead them along that path and not condemn them from the start.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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