Featured Image
Pope FrancisVatican News screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis said that those who oppose Fiducia Supplicans (FS) “belong to small ideological groups” and that the Church in Africa is “a special case” because of its culture. 

In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Francis addressed the criticism of the controversial Vatican declaration on “blessings” for couples in irregular situations, saying that “those who vehemently protest [Fiducia Supplicans] belong to small ideological groups.” 

The pope described the Catholic Church in Africa as “a special case” since “for them, homosexuality is something ‘ugly’ from a cultural point of view; they do not tolerate it,” according to the English translation of the interview by Vatican News. 

He furthermore said, “I trust that gradually everyone will be reassured about the spirit of the declaration,” which “aims to include, not divide. It invites us to welcome and then entrust people, and to trust in God.” 

Francis said in reference to Fiducia Supplicans that “Christ calls everyone from within.” 

“The Gospel is to sanctify everyone,” he added. “Of course, there must be goodwill. And it is necessary to give precise instructions on the Christian life (I emphasize that it is not the union that is blessed, but the persons). But we are all sinners: Why should we make a list of sinners who can enter the Church and a list of sinners who cannot be in the Church? This is not the Gospel.” 

READ: Pope Francis doubles down on homosexual blessings: ‘Not the union, but the people’ are blessed 

Francis admitted he sometimes feels alone, “but I still always strive ahead, day after day,” and stressed that he does not fear schisms. 

The pope seemed to infer that the critics of Fiducia Supplicans are “of a schismatic nature.” 

“In the Church, there have always been small groups that manifest reflections of a schismatic nature,” he said. “One must let them carry on and pass away … and look ahead.” 

Contrary to Pope Francis’ claims that the opponents of Fiducia Supplicans consist of “small ideological groups,” a substantial number of bishops, priests, and other clergymen, as well as notable Catholic scholars, have publicly criticized the Vatican document. 

Apart from the majority of African bishops, to whom Francis referred as “a special case,” the non-exhaustive list of notable critics of Fiducia Supplicans includes:  

  • Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith 
  • Cardinal Robert Sarah, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments 
  • Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong 
  • Cardinal Daniel Sturla, Archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay 
  • Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Archbishop Tomas Peta from the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan 
  • Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former papal nuncio to the U.S. 
  • Archbishop Hector Aguer, emeritus Archbishop of La Plata, Argentina 
  • Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church 
  • Bishop Adair José Guimarães of the Diocese of Formosa, Brazil 
  • Bishop Rafael Escudero López-Brea of the Diocese of Moyobamba, Peru 
  • Bishop Marian Eleganti, emeritus bishop of Chur, Switzerland 
  • Bishop Robert Pipta, Byzantine Catholic bishop of Parma, Ohio 
  • The Bishops’ Conference of Hungary 
  • The Bishops’ Conference of Poland 
  • The U.K. Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, representing over 500 clergy 
  • The Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy 
  • The U.S. Confraternity of Catholic Clergy 
  • A group of 157 Spanish-speaking priests 

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

The Catholic Church has always and everywhere taught that homosexual acts are serious sins. Unfortunately, in recent decades, the Church’s witness to chastity, connubial love and family life has been hindered by revelations of homosexual activity among the clergy in Europe and the Americas. 

RELATED: Priest convicted of abusing fellow altar boys at Vatican’s pre-seminary