The Vatican Justifies Blessings for Same-Sex Couples

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
The Vatican

The Vatican is attempting to quell the controversy surrounding blessings for same-sex couples. A five-page press release was issued on Thursday, January 4, to “clarify” the reception of the recent declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reflecting the turmoil caused by this document in December. “Fiducia Supplicans,” the name of this declaration, indeed allows priests to provide blessings to so-called “irregular” couples, including same-sex couples.

To the extent that on December 20, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa and President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, called on the continent’s Episcopal conferences to draft a “single synodal declaration valid for the entire Church of Africa.” This move may have been surprising, especially as Cardinal Ambongo is known to be close to Pope Francis.

However, for the Archbishop of Kinshasa, “the ambiguity of the declaration on December 18, which lends itself to many interpretations and manipulations, raises a lot of perplexity among the faithful.” In other words, some saw it as a doctrinal change. Behind this rebellion lies the issue of the recognition of homosexuality, an extremely sensitive topic on the continent. A telling figure encapsulates the extent of the problem: 32 out of 54 countries currently prohibit homosexuality in Africa.

A “Pastoral Reflection”

Meanwhile, the Vatican emphasizes “the need for a longer time of pastoral reflection” to understand the content of the text, according to our correspondent on the ground, Éric Sénanque. The document “remains clear and classic on marriage and sexuality,” the statement clarifies, so there is no reason for this document to be considered “heretical, contrary to the tradition of the Church, or blasphemous.”

As the guardian of doctrine, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith aims to reassure those who fear that blessing same-sex couples may one day open the door to the recognition of homosexual unions. The Vatican’s document acknowledges the diversity of local cultural contexts where homosexuality is sometimes criminalized.

The “Response of a Pastor to Two Individuals”

“If there are laws that condemn imprisonment and, in some cases, torture or even death for simply declaring oneself homosexual, it is understandable that a blessing would be imprudent,” the press release notes. However, it remains important that certain Episcopal conferences “do not uphold a doctrine different from the one approved by the pope” in December 2023.

The Vatican emphasizes that these new blessings are in no way “a consecration of the person or couple receiving them, nor a ratification of the life they lead. It is simply the response of a pastor to two people seeking God’s help.” This allusion, without explicitly naming them, is directed at several African countries where bishops have expressed concern about the authorization to bless same-sex unions.

Soukaina Sghir

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