Pope Francis accuses critics of same-sex blessings of 'hypocrisy'

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(CP) Pope Francis is accusing those opposed to the Vatican's declaration allowing priests to bless same-sex couples of hypocrisy as the Holy See continues to face blowback over that decision.

The pontiff spoke with the Italian weekly magazine Credere for an interview that will be published in the Feb. 8 issue of the periodical. Vatican News reported on some of Francis' remarks in the interview ahead of its publication Wednesday.

The Dec. 18 declaration "Fiducia Supplicans," issued by the Vatican's Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has resulted in a lot of pushback within Catholic circles and Francis addressed it in his interview with Credere. The document permits pastoral blessings of "same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church's perennial teaching on marriage."

The pope responded to the most common criticisms of Fiducia Supplicans that it blesses homosexual behavior and homosexual relationships in contradiction to Catholic Church teaching. "I do not bless a 'homosexual marriage'; I bless two people who love each other, and I also ask them to pray for me," he said.

"Always in confessions, when these situations arrive — homosexual people, remarried people — I always pray and bless," he added. "The blessing is not to be denied to anyone. Everyone, everyone. Mind you, I am talking about people: those who are capable of receiving baptism."

After identifying "the gravest sins" as "those that disguise themselves with a more 'angelic' appearance," he lamented that "no one is scandalized if I give a blessing to an entrepreneur who perhaps exploits people: and this is a very serious sin." He suggested that on the other hand, people "are scandalized if I give it to a homosexual."

"This is hypocrisy!" he proclaimed. "We must all respect each other. Everyone! The heart of the document is welcome."

The interview with Credere constitutes one of several occasions in which the Vatican and/or Pope Francis have defended Fiducia Supplicans either directly or indirectly. In remarks three days after the Vatican published the declaration, Francis advised Vatican officials to "remain vigilant against rigid ideological positions that often, under the guise of good intentions, separate us from reality and prevent us from moving forward."

Two weeks after Fiducia Supplicans was published, the Vatican's Prefect for the Doctrine of the Congregation of the Faith Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez issued a statement clarifying that the "non-ritualized" form of a blessing "does not intend to justify anything that is not morally acceptable." He also asserted that the blessing constitutes neither an "approval" nor a marriage but rather "a response of a pastor towards two persons who ask for God's help."

Speaking at the plenary session for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith late last month, Francis attempted to assuage concerns about the document by proclaiming "these blessings, outside of any liturgical context and form, do not demand moral perfection in order to be received." He also insisted that "one does not bless the union, but simply the people who have required it together," summarizing the blessings as designed for "Not the union, but the people."

The belief that Fiducia Supplicans runs afoul of Catholic Church teaching has led to calls for the resignation of both Francis and Fernandez. A letter first published last week by Catholic pastors, clergy, scholars, professors and doctors called on Francis to withdraw the document.

While 92 individuals signed the letter at the time of its initial publication, more signatories are expected. "Qualified individuals" can provide their "name, qualifications, position and location" to filialappeal@gmail.com by Feb. 15 to ensure placement on an updated list of signatories slated for release on Feb. 17.

Although Fiducia Supplicans has generated backlash from conservative Catholics, others have praised it as a "step forward" that is "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." Meanwhile, pro-life activist and practicing Catholic Lila Rose has pushed back on the idea that "Fiducia Supplicans" amounts to a new development.

"The Pope has not approved blessings for same-sex sexual relationships," she stated in an X post the day after Fiducia Supplicans was published. Lamenting that "Those running headlines saying as much are either confused themselves or intentionally misleading others to cause confusion," she noted that "blessings have always been freely given to any person – and never to sin."

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