Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops statement on Vatican document addressing pastoral blessings

By CCCB Communications Office

With respect to the Declaration “Fiducia supplicans” issued by the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) offered the following statement from CCCB President, Bishop William McGrattan.

“On 18 December 2023 the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans, which responds to questions that had been raised regarding the possibility of offering blessings to persons living in irregular unions, including same-sex relationships. While explicitly affirming the Church’s traditional understanding of marriage, Fiducia Supplicans allows pastors to bless people who freely request a blessing, seeking divine help to live in fidelity to God’s will.  The Declaration makes clear that such blessings must be directed to the persons themselves rather than their situation and that they must be spontaneously requested and are not ritual or liturgical actions.

The guiding principle in the Declaration is the fact that the very request for a blessing represents an openness to God’s mercy and can be an occasion for greater trust in God.”



Vatican note on blessings opens door to those seeking God, official says

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

[Vatican City – CNS] – The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s declaration on informally blessing same-sex couples or other non-married couples is a reminder that the Catholic Church and its pastors never close the door on people seeking God’s help, said a commentary published in Vatican media.

“The heart of a shepherd cannot remain indifferent to the people who approach him, humbly asking to be blessed, regardless of their condition, their history or the path of their life,” said the commentary by Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication.

“The shepherd’s heart does not extinguish the flickering light of one who senses their own incompleteness, knowing they need mercy and help from on High,” Tornielli wrote in a piece published Dec. 18 in multiple languages on the Vatican News website and in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

The doctrinal dicastery’s document, “Fiducia Supplicans” (“Supplicating Trust”) was approved by Pope Francis during an audience with Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, dicastery prefect, Dec. 18 and published the same day.

Tornielli explained that it “opens the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations, including same-sex couples. It clarifies that blessing in this case does not mean approving their life choices and emphasizes the need to avoid any ritualization or other elements that may remotely imitate marriage.”

“The origin of the declaration is evangelical,” Tornielli said, because it draws from the myriad examples in the Gospels of Jesus breaking “traditions and religious prescriptions, respectability, and social conventions. He performs actions that scandalize the self-righteous, the so-called ‘pure,’ those who shield themselves with norms and rules to distance, reject and close doors.”

Everyone who approached Jesus “encountered His gaze and felt loved, recipients of an embrace of mercy given to them without any precondition,” Tornielli wrote. And “discovering themselves loved and forgiven, they realized what they were: poor sinners like everyone else, in need of conversion, beggars for everything.”

In his introduction to the declaration, Cardinal Fernández wrote that it “remains firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage, not allowing any type of liturgical rite or blessing similar to a liturgical rite that can create confusion,” but it also explores the “pastoral meaning of blessings” in a way that opens “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.”

The church “remains firm” in teaching that marriage can be contracted only between one woman and one man, he said, and continues to insist that “rites and prayers that could create confusion” about a marriage and another form of relationship “are inadmissible.”

But, Tornielli wrote, the declaration also insists that a priest or deacon with a “shepherd’s heart” would see in a couple’s request for a blessing “a crack in the wall, a tiny opening through which grace might already be at work. Therefore, their first concern is not to close the small crack, but to welcome and implore blessing and mercy so that the people before them can begin to understand God’s plan for their lives.”

© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission.