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Pope Francis & Cardinal Fernández, January 26, 2024. Vatican News

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis defended the controversial text Fiducia Supplicans today, stating that blessings of same-sex couples do “not bless the union, but simply the people who together make the request.”

The Pontiff made his comments during a January 26 meeting with the plenary assembly of the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Fiducia Supplicans emerged from that same body of the Roman Curia on December 18, having been written by the new CDF Prefect Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, and approved by the Pope. 

Speaking about “evangelization” and the sacraments, Francis closed his address by commenting on the hotly contested text. “The intent of ‘pastoral and spontaneous blessings’ is to show concretely the closeness of the Lord and the Church to all those who, finding themselves in different situations, ask for help to carry on – sometimes to begin – a journey of faith,” he said. 

The Pontiff doubled down on the arguments both he and Fernández have respectively made in the document and in their subsequent brief comments on it, stating that the blessing of two people together is not meant to condone the fact of the two people being together:

I would like to emphasize briefly two things: the first is that these blessings, outside of any liturgical context and form, do not require moral perfection to be received; the second, that when a couple spontaneously approaches to ask for them, one does not bless the union, but simply the people who together made the request. 

Not the union, but the people — of course taking into account the context, the sensitivities, the places where people live and the most appropriate ways to do it.

The Pope’s defense of Fiducia Supplicans, and by extension its author Cardinal Fernández, follows widespread opposition to the text from bishops, cardinals, and bishops’ conferences around the world. 

READ: FULL LIST: Where do bishops stand on blessings for homosexual couples?

Indeed, one of the Pope’s close C9 cardinal advisors – Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo – flew to Rome specifically to discuss with Francis and Fernández the fact that bishops in Africa and Madagascar would not be offering blessings of same-sex couples.

READ: Pope Francis directly involved in Africa’s rejection of blessings for homosexual ‘couples’

Ambongo’s subsequently published letter was co-written with Fernández and had Francis’ direct approval at each step of its writing. Such a move came less than one week after Fernández had warned bishops that they were not permitted to forbid the implementation of the document in their dioceses. 

But despite collaborating with Ambongo to issue a continent-wide rejection of the document that he approved, Pope Francis then proceeded to attack critics of Fiducia Supplicans just a few days later. In an Italian TV appearance Francis said those who oppose the text have jumped to “ugly conclusions” because they do not understand it properly. 

“Sometimes decisions are not accepted. In most cases, decisions are not accepted because one does not know things,” said the Pope.

While Francis and Fernández have not shied away from defending the text, a former prefect of the CDF has been repeatedly vocal in his criticism of it. Writing in December 2023, Cardinal Gerhard Müller questioned if a Catholic could accept the document’s teaching.

“Given the unity of deeds and words in the Christian faith, one can only accept that it is good to bless these unions, even in a pastoral way, if one believes that such unions are not objectively contrary to the law of God,” he stated.

Following Fernández’s January 4 press release defending the document, Müller responded again, saying that Fernández’s argument still left elements in the document which were “problematic.”

The German cardinal added how the “worldwide negative reaction from large parts of the world’s episcopate and from leading lay people… should give those responsible in Rome food for thought.”