THE Vatican has insisted that Roman Catholic bishops must eventually allow their clergy to bless same-sex couples, despite top-level criticism of a pre-Christmas Declaration, Fiducia Supplicans, conditionally approving the practice (News, 22/29 December 2023, 5 January).
“Prudence and attention to the ecclesial context and to local culture could allow for different methods of application, but not a total or definitive denial,” the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) says in a press release, dated 4 January.
“Some bishops have established that each priest must carry out the work of discernment and may perform these blessings only in private — none of this is problematic if it is expressed with due respect for a text signed and approved by the Supreme Pontiff.”
The press release seeks to “clarify the reception” of Fiducia Supplicans, published on 18 December, which declares that RC priests are permitted to give “non-liturgical blessings” to same-sex couples.
The press release says that the 5600-word Declaration remains firm on the Church’s “traditional doctrine about marriage” as the “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman”, and on the impossibility of conferring liturgical blessings or “moral legitimacy” to any “extra-marital sexual practice”.
It goes on to say, however, that bishops’ conferences need an “extended period of pastoral reflection” on the Declaration, as well as a “full and calm reading” to grasp its “meaning and purpose”.
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