Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans
Dec. 18, 2023
Today, with the approval of the Holy Father, the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith issued the Declaration Fiducia supplicans. The Declaration clarifies that there are forms of blessings, as we see throughout the Scriptures, which are “poured out on others as a gesture of grace, protection, and goodness.” Consequently, it is now permissible for ordained ministers of the Church to “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.”
At the heart of the Declaration is a call for pastors to take a pastoral approach by being available to people who, while not claiming a legitimation of their own status, recognize their need for God’s help and “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.” As such, the Declaration is a step forward, and in keeping not only with Pope Francis’s desire to accompany people pastorally but Jesus’s desire to be present to all people who desire grace and support.
At the same time, the 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.” This is in keeping with what Pope Francis wrote in July of this year, that while “pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not convey an erroneous conception of marriage,…it is not appropriate for a diocese, a bishops’ conference, or any other ecclesial structure to constantly and officially establish procedures or rituals for all kinds of matters.”
The Declaration is quite specific in this regard, noting that in order “to avoid any form of confusion or scandal, when the prayer of blessing is requested by a couple in an irregular situation, even though it is expressed outside the rites prescribed by the liturgical books, this 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.”
Consequently, such blessings should take 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. Indeed, through these blessings that are given not through the ritual forms proper to the liturgy but as an expression of the Church’s maternal heart—similar to those that emanate from the core of popular piety—there is no intention to legitimize anything, but rather to open one’s life to God, to ask for his help to live better, and also to invoke the Holy Spirit so that the values of the Gospel may be lived with greater faithfulness.”
In sum, what is required is a pastoral approach, for the Church, as a loving mother, “must shy away from resting its pastoral praxis on the fixed nature of certain doctrinal or disciplinary schemes, especially when they lead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying… Thus, 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.”
Here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, we welcome this declaration, which will help many more in our community feel the closeness and compassion of God.