The Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolinhas come out in defense of Pope Francis’ decision to approve the blessing of homosexual couples, which has provoked a cascade of criticism in the Catholic world to the point that African bishops as a whole – except those of South Africa and Kenya – have refused to apply it on their continent.
“Is it good or bad?” journalists from the Vatican media have asked him in relation to the document of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Fiducia Supplicans, which opens the possibility of blessing couples in an “irregular” situation. including those of the same sex.
“It is always good – the cardinal has assured – the important thing is that we always proceed according to what is called ‘progress in continuity.’ In the Church there have always been changes: The Church of today is not the Church of 2000 years ago. The Church is open to the signs of the times, it is attentive to the needs that arise, but it must also be faithful to the Gospel, it must be faithful to tradition, faithful to its heritage. If these ferments serve to walk following the Gospel, to give answers, they are welcome.”
Parolin has also been asked about the letter published this Thursday by the cardinal of Kinshasa, Fridolin Ambongo, in which African bishops stated that they were not willing to bless homosexual couples. “This document (Fiducia Supplicans) has provoked very strong reactions from some episcopates. It means that a very very delicate, very sensitive point has been touched, which will require a lot of study,” he said.
In December, the Vatican authorized for the first time in an official document the blessing of same-sex couples and “in irregular situations” for the Catholic Church, however remaining firm in its opposition to homosexual marriage.
“You can understand the possibility of bless couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples, without officially validating their status nor alter in any way the perennial teaching of the Church on Marriage,” reads the document, approved by Pope Francis, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
However, he specifies, “this blessing will never be performed at the same time as the civil union rites, nor in connection with them. Not even with the clothes, gestures or words typical of a marriage.”
The “Declaration” of the prefect of the Congregation, the Argentine cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, has as its title Fiducia Supplicans: on the pastoral meaning of blessings and it is the first that the Doctrine of the Faith, the ancient Holy Office, publishes in the last 23 years, since Dominus Jesus (2000).
The document delves into a letter that Francis sent to two conservative cardinals and which was published in October. In that preliminary response, Francis suggested that such blessings could be offered in some circumstances if they did not confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage.
This month, the Vatican clarified in a statement that blessings for gay couples “are not ritualized” and that they are characterized by “the simplicity and brevity of their form” because “they do not intend to justify something that is not morally acceptable.”
(With information from EP and AFP)