Statement on Fiducia Supplicans
December 21, 2023
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Monday, December 18, 2023, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome issued a new document on blessings entitled, Fiducia Supplicans. Here is a link to the document and I encourage you to read it: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_ddf_doc_20231218_fiducia-supplicans_en.html
Since its release, the document has been misunderstood. The Church’s constant teaching on marriage and sexuality remains firm. The document states:
“Therefore, rites and prayers that could create confusion between what constitutes marriage—which is the “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children”—and what contradicts it are inadmissible. This conviction is grounded in the perennial Catholic doctrine of marriage; it is only in this context that sexual relations find their natural, proper, and fully human meaning. The Church’s doctrine on this point remains firm. This is also the understanding of marriage that is offered by the Gospel. For this reason, when it comes to blessings, the Church has the right and the duty to avoid any rite that might contradict this conviction or lead to confusion. Such is also the meaning of the Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which states that the Church does not have the power to impart blessings on unions of persons of the same sex.”
What the document does allow is spontaneous prayers and blessings for people who request them, even if they are in an irregular situation. For example, people commonly approach priests to ask for prayers and blessings. “Father, it is my birthday, can you give me a blessing?” “Father, I am struggling with anxiety, can you give me a blessing?” “Father, I am going on a trip. Can you give me a blessing for safe travels?” We readily give blessings and pray for people who are seeking help from God, even if they are in an irregular situation. We would never bless or condone sin.
In granting such spontaneous blessings, great care is to be taken to avoid scandal, or give the impression of condoning a lifestyle contrary to Church teaching. There is much confusion about the meaning and purpose of marriage and sexuality. We lack charity and we do not serve people if we foster confusion or lack clarity in our teaching and pastoral practice. Thus, blessings of people who are seeking help from God and who are in irregular situations should be given privately.
Most Reverend John F. Doerfler
Bishop of Marquette