ON THE POSSIBILITY OF BLESSINGS FOR COUPLES IN IRREGULAR SITUATIONS AND FOR COUPLES OF THE SAME SEX
Last Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released a Declaration entitled “Fiducia Supplicans”, with the approval of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. It is clear in its content and intent. Basically, it elaborates “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”.
The document speaks for itself and therefore does not require much explanation. In fact, in paragraph 41, it says, “What has been said in this Declaration regarding the blessings of same-sex couples is sufficient to guide the prudent and fatherly discernment of ordained ministers in this regard. Thus, beyond the guidance provided above, no further responses should be expected about possible ways to regulate details or practicalities regarding blessings of this type.”
Allow us, therefore, in the name of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to simply attach here a link to the document itself, for those interested to know and understand what the document itself is saying. https://www.vatican.va/…/rc_ddf_doc_20231218_fiducia…
The document has an introduction where the Prefect of the said dicastery, Victor Manuel Cardinal Fernandez points out that “this declaration 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.” What Cardinal Fernandez considers as unique value of this document is that “…it offers a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings, permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings…”
Five paragraphs—namely 13, 25, 31, 38, and 39–are worth highlighting in the document:
“…Pope Francis urged us not to close pastoral charity, which should permeate all our decisions and attitudes and to avoid being judges who only deny, reject, and exclude. Let us then respond to the Holy Father’s proposal by developing a broader understanding of blessings.” (FS13)
“…when people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it. For, those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection.” (FS25)
“Within the horizon outlined here appears the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex, the form of which should not be fixed ritually by ecclesial authorities to avoid producing confusion with the blessing proper to the Sacrament of Marriage. In such cases, a blessing may be imparted… upon 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.”(FS31)
“For this reason, one should neither provide for nor promote a ritual for the blessings of couples in an irregular situation. At the same time, one should not prevent or prohibit the Church’s closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God’s help through a simple blessing.” (FS38)
“…precisely to avoid any form of confusion or scandal, when the prayer of blessing is requested by a couple in an irregular situation… the blessing 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.The same applies when the blessing is requested by a same-sex couple.” (FS 39)
This advisory is hereby being issued for the information of the Roman Catholic faithful in the Philippines.
+Pablo Virgilio David
Bishop of Kalookan
20 December 2023