Monday, December 18, 2023



Doctrinal declaration opens possibility to bless couples in irregular situations

With the Declaration “Fiducia supplicans” issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by Pope Francis, it will be possible to bless same-sex couples but without any type of ritualization or offering the impression of a marriage. The doctrine regarding marriage does not change, and the blessing does not signify approval of the union. (WHAT DOES IT SIGNIFY?)

By Vatican News

When two people request a blessing, even if their situation as a couple is “irregular,” it will be possible for the ordained minister to consent. However, this gesture of pastoral closeness must avoid any elements that remotely resemble a marriage rite.

This is what is stated the 

Declaration “Fiducia supplicans” on the pastoral meaning of blessings,

published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis.

The document explores the theme of blessings, distinguishing between ritual and liturgical ones, and spontaneous ones more akin to signs of popular devotion. It is precisely in this second category there is now consideration of the possibility of welcoming even those who do not live according to the norms of Christian moral doctrine but humbly request to be blessed. 23 years have passed since the former “Holy Office” published a Declaration (the last one was in August 2000 with “Dominus Jesus”), a document of such doctrinal importance.

Fiducia supplicans” begins with the introduction by the prefect, Cardinal Victor Fernandez, who explains that the Declaration considers the “pastoral meaning of blessings,” allowing “a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding” through a theological reflection “based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis.

It is a reflection that “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.”

After the first paragraphs (1-3) that recall the previous pronouncement of 2021 that is now further developed and superseded, the Declaration presents the blessing in the Sacrament of Marriage (paragraphs 4-6) stating as inadmissible “rites and prayers that could create confusion between what constitutes marriage” and “what contradicts it,” by avoiding any implication that “something that is not marriage is being recognized as marriage.” It is reiterated that according to the “perennial Catholic doctrine” only sexual relations between a man and a woman in the context of marriage are considered lawful.

A second extensive part of the Declaration (paragraphs 7-30) analyzes the meaning of different blessings, whose recipients are people, objects of worship, and places of life. It is recalled that “from a strictly liturgical point of view,” the blessing requires that what is blessed “be conformed to God’s will, as expressed in the teachings of the Church.”

“When a blessing is invoked on certain human relationships” through a special liturgical rite, the Declaration notes, “it is necessary that what is blessed corresponds with God’s designs written in creation” (par. 11). Therefore, the Church does not have the power to impart a liturgical blessing on irregular or same-sex couples. It is also necessary to avoid the risk of reducing the meaning of blessings to this point of view only, expecting for a simple blessing “the same moral conditions for a simple blessing that are called for in the reception of the sacraments” (par. 12).

After analyzing blessings in Scripture, the Declaration offers a theological-pastoral understanding. Those who ask for a blessing show themselves “to be in need of God’s saving presence” in their lives by expressing “a petition for God’s assistance, a plea to live better” (par. 21). This request should be received and valued “outside of a liturgical framework” when found “in a realm of greater spontaneity and freedom” (par. 23).

When seeing them from the perspective of popular piety, “blessings should be evaluated as acts of devotion.” Those requesting a blessing “should not be required to have prior moral perfection” as a precondition, the Declaration notes.

Exploring this distinction, based on the response of Pope Francis to the dubia published last October that called for discernment on the possibility of “forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not convey an erroneous conception of marriage” (par. 26), the Declaration affirms that this kind of blessing “is offered to all without requiring anything,” helping people feel that they are still blessed despite their mistakes and that “their heavenly Father continues to will their good and to hope that they will ultimately open themselves to the good” (par. 27).

There are “several occasions when people spontaneously ask for a blessing, whether on pilgrimages, at shrines, or even on the street when they meet a priest and these blessings “are meant for everyone; no one is to be excluded from them” (par. 28).

While it is not appropriate to establish “procedures or rituals” for such cases, the ordained minister may join in the prayer of those persons who “although in a union that cannot be compared in any way to a marriage, desire to entrust themselves to the Lord and his mercy, to invoke his help, and to be guided to a greater understanding of his plan of love and of truth” (par. 30).

The third part of the Declaration (paragraphs 31-41) opens then to the possibility of these blessings that represent a sign for those who “recognizing themselves to be destitute and in need of his help—do not claim a legitimation of their own status, but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit” (par. 31).

These blessings should not necessarily become the norm, the Statement notes, but entrusted to “a practical discernment in particular circumstances” (par. 37).

Although the couple is blessed but not the union, the Declaration notes that what is blessed is the legitimate relationship between the two people: in “a brief prayer preceding this spontaneous blessing, the ordained minister could ask that the individuals have peace, health, a spirit of patience, dialogue, and mutual assistance—but also God’s light and strength to be able to fulfill his will completely” (par. 38).

Also clarified is that to avoid “any form of confusion or scandal,” that when a couple in an irregular situation or same-sex couples ask for a blessing, it “should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them. Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding” (par. 39). This kind of blessing “may instead find its place in other contexts, such as a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage” (par. 40).

In conclusion, the fourth chapter (paragraphs 42-45) recalls that “even when a person’s relationship with God is clouded by sin, he can always ask for a blessing, stretching out his hand to God” and desiring a blessing “can be the possible good in some situations” (par. 43).

 My Comments: The Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith has, by stealth, defined in a stealthy way what "Development of Doctrine" is. It means, first, that the camel sticks his nose into the tent. He's not in the tent completely, but the development of time means he will be and rather quickly. 

It all seems so unofficial and the blessings given are off-the-cuff. I have given blessings to mortal sinners who could not receive absolution without ever saying that the blessing was to confirm them in any particular sin. And at every Mass, I bless communicants who come forward with their arms crossed over their chest becuase they know they are not in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion. I suppose that a LGBTQ+++ couple could come up together and cross their arms over their chest and I would give a blessing. That blesses them, not their union. 

The same would be true of couples in adulterous relationships. 

But make no mistake, the next development of doctrine will suspend this permission and just allow for marital blessings no matter what. I could be wrong.


rcg said...

It’s going to take a millennium to fix this.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have felt that Pope Francis is a grand enabler of sin, not in a malicious way, but misplaced compassion. We see that within the liberal politics of various parties. Let's give drug addicts clean needles and safe drugs and allow them to live where they wish in tents and other places. It is a misplaced compassion.

But I think we know that what this is, and that's the trickery of liberals, is to open the door to something by way of a crack and then the door is fully open. It is the beginning of the redefinition of sexual morality in the Catholic Church and soon Humanae Vitae will be as outdated as the previous statement about the Church not being able to bless sin and thus same sex unions or any immoral union.

Unknown said...

"when a blessing is invoked on certain human relationships by a special liturgical rite, it is necessary that what is blessed corresponds with God’s designs written in creation and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. For this reason, since the Church has always considered only those sexual relations that are lived out within marriage to be morally licit, the Church does not have the power to confer its liturgical blessing when that would somehow offer a form of moral legitimacy to a union that presumes to be a marriage or to an extra-marital sexual practice."

I will bet you one gazillion dollars that this won't be followed in practice. And in the real world, not some narrow intellectualist's walled city, this will affect how people live and believe. Perhaps that is the desired effect--Tuco was chosen for a reason.


James E Dangerfield said...

You could bless a kindergarten graduation, a hamster or even a prison. It’s gotta be that this is along those lines. Why would we bless a horrible place like a prison? Because people are there who aren’t dead year and in need of Grace. For similar reasons, animals are blessed. Remember getting your “Mr Christopher” metal blessed?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What I find interesting is that no formal blessing prayers are offered. Most priests make up their own blessing prayers, although there is a Book of Blessings for just about anything as you note James. We are told that the blessing prayer can’t approximate what would appear to be nuptial. We’ll see what corrections will take place in Germany where formal prayers are given for liturgical blessings.

I have never had same sex couples ask me for a blessing of their relationship. Perhaps they knew not to do so. But this new decree will open wide the door to it. The secular media is already mischaracterizing what this is to make it sound like it is a marital blessing.

As I read the declaration, it appears to me that it can’t be in a liturgical celebration, like at Mass or even an invitation only type of liturgical blessing. I could be wrong, but I suspect most people who are in irregular partnerships will want to have a liturgical celebration with a reception following. Or maybe priests and deacons will be invited to the reception after a civil marriage ceremony to offer a blessing off-the-cuff.

It does complicate things. I hope local bishops offer some guidance.

Unknown said...

"I have never had same sex couples ask me for a blessing of their relationship. Perhaps they knew not to do so. But this new decree will open wide the door to it."

God bless any priest who declines such a request. What are the odds our new, listening Church would stand by him?


Catechist Kev said...

Oh the pope splainers and pollys are going to have fun with this. 🙄

TJM said...

The Vatican adores their perverts just like the Dem Party!

Michael A said...

Father McDonald,

The interpretation of this is wide open and will permit just about anything. This will give James Martin the opportunity to blur the lines in a cute way so two male lovers can feel welcomed in the Church. Martin and others like him are free to do whatever pleases them. The illegitimate pope that now sits in the Vatican has permitted gay marriage so there is little point in wondering about what this means. Has there been any priest or nun disciplined by this pope for anything else but for being right wingers? Is there one?

Unknown said...


Martin has already done so:

"James Martin, who advocates for greater welcome for LGBTQ+ Catholics, praised the new document as a 'huge step forward' and a 'dramatic shift' from the Vatican’s 2021 policy. The new document 'recognizes the deep desire in many Catholic same-sex couples for God’s presence and help in their committed relationships,' he said in an email. 'Along with many Catholic priests, I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex marriages.'

Lord have mercy.


the Egyptian said...

SSPX anyone????
How long will they continue to claim fidelity to the Pope??