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Archbishop Franz LacknerScreenshot/Wiki/MVereno

(LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Franz Lackner, has said that priests “can no longer say no” to a request for a “blessing” of a homosexual couple after the publication of the Vatican’s controversial Declaration Fiducia supplicans. 

Lackner expressed his “joy” over the publication of the document that allows the “blessing” of homosexual couples under certain conditions.  

“I believe that the Church recognizes that a relationship between two [people] of the same sex is not entirely without truth: there is love, there is fidelity, there is also hardship shared and lived in faithfulness. This should also be acknowledged,” he said in an interview with Austrian public TV Station ORF. 

When asked by the interviewer if priests will be obliged to “bless” same-sex couples, Lackner said that in sacramental and religious life, it is always difficult to speak of a “must.” However, he added, “Basically, you can no longer say no.” 

RELATED: BREAKING: Pope Francis publishes norms for clergy to ‘bless’ homosexual couples 

The Austrian prelate told the Austrian Catholic press agency Kathpress that a blessing is a basic need “that should not be denied to anyone— just like bread.” 

Both the Austrian Bishops’ Conference and Lackner himself had been trying to “find a viable way of accompanying people in so-called irregular unions,” the Archbishop of Salzburg emphasized. He also referred to the Latin word for “bless,” namely “benedicere,” which means “to say [something] good.” 

Lackner stated that the Catholic teaching on marriage remains unchanged and referred to the natural union of one man and one woman as the “ideal type” of relationship.

“The ideal type is and remains the relationship between man and woman, in which alone life is passed on naturally,” he said. “The Church will adhere to this teaching.”

He also said that the  Church wants to “speak good things in the name of God to couples in non-regular situations who are faithful and loving to each other.” 

“The differences must be allowed to be named, although the unifying factor is great – the common calling from baptism, which makes us brothers and sisters in the Lord,” he concluded. 

Bishop Josef Marketz of the Austrian diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt described the Vatican’s declaration on the blessing of homosexual couples as an “important step towards an open Church.”  

He is “happy and grateful” that this turnaround has now been made possible within two years, as the blessing of same-sex couples was still prohibited by the Congregation (now Dicastery) of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in February 2021, which “rightfully hurt and offended many people,” said the Austrian bishop. 

According to Marketz, Fiducia supplicans is characterized by a “loving view of people’s situation as well as their longing and desire for [a] blessing, so that their life together can succeed well or even better under the loving gaze of God.” 

For Marketz, it has “always been very clear that same-sex couples must not be regarded as second-class Christians.” 

He stressed that this corresponds to his wish for the Church to be a place where there is “room for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.” 

Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl of the diocese of Graz-Seckau also welcomed the new Vatican declaration Fiducia supplicans. 

“Anyone who asks for a blessing shows that he or she or both need the saving presence of God, and this blessing must not be denied,” Krautwaschl said. 

The Austrian prelate argued that the latest Vatican document is a continuation of the manner of “pastoral care” practiced by Pope Francis since his post-synodal letter Amoris Laetitia. 

Several heterodox German bishops also made public statements shortly after the publication of Fiducia supplicans, welcoming the document as a “real Christmas present.” 

READ: Heterodox German bishops laud new Vatican document on gay ‘blessings’ as a ‘real Christmas present’ 

Bishop Strickland and Church teaching contradict heterodox Vatican document 

Bishop Joseph Strickland was among the first bishops to criticize the new Vatican document and call his brother bishops to resist the heterodoxy contained in it. 

In remarks shared exclusively with LifeSiteNews via video, Bishop Strickland encouraged “my brother bishops that we all join with a voice of strength and joy in the Lord in these last days of Advent and say ‘no’ to this latest document.” 

“We really simply need to be a united voice saying, ‘No,’ we will not respond to this,’” Strickland stated. “We will not incorporate this into the life of the Church because we simply must say ‘no.’ And it needs to be a united voice.” 

“In history, with the kinds of issues that we’re facing, a pope would call for a council,” he also stated. “That isn’t likely to happen now, but we need a united voice, something like a council, to address the confusion and the issues that continually arise to know the truth of Jesus Christ that is unchanging.” 

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Strickland urges bishops to say ‘no’ to Francis’ ‘blessings’ of homosexual couples 

The Catholic Church has always taught that homosexual acts are gravely sinful and contrary to nature. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states the following:  

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.(CCC 2357)