Pope Francis responded publicly to questions about the Vatican’s declaration on blessings for same-sex couples for the first time in a television interview on Sunday night. In an appearance on an Italian talk show on Jan. 14, the 87-year-old pope was asked if he “felt alone” after the publication of Fiducia Supplicans was met with some resistance. “Sometimes decisions are not accepted,” Pope Francis replied. “But in most cases, when you don’t accept a decision, it’s because you don’t understand.” The pope underlined that “the Lord blesses everyone” and that a blessing is an invitation to enter into a conversation “to see what the road is that the Lord proposes to them.”
“The Lord blesses everyone who is capable of being baptized, that is, every person,” Francis repeated. “But we are to take them by the hand and help them go down that road, not condemn them from the beginning,” he added. “And this is the pastoral work of the Church. This is very important work for confessors.” The Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Dec. 18 declaration made it permissible for priests to offer nonliturgical blessings for couples in “irregular” situations, including same-sex couples, noting “that it offers a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings, permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings.”
Following widespread backlash from bishops’ conferences in Africa and Eastern Europe, and strong denouncements from some of the Church’s senior prelates, the Vatican’s doctrine office issued a fivepage press release on Jan. 4 to provide clarification on the document, writing that its application will depend “on local contexts and the discernment of each diocesan bishop with his diocese.” Speaking to the Italian program “Che Tempo Che Fa” via video link from his Vatican City residence, the pope said that when someone disagrees with a decision, they should express their concerns in “a fraternal discussion.” “The danger is when I don’t like something and I set it in my heart, I become a resistance and come to ugly conclusions,” Pope Francis said.
“This has happened with this last decision about blessing everyone.” Pope Francis also responded to questions about the declaration on same-sex blessings during a closed-door meeting with 800 priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on Saturday morning. According to the Vatican-owned media outlet Vatican News, the pope said that the Church’s doctrine on the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman has not changed and that “people are blessed, not sin.”
Other Italian media outlets, including the Italian news channel Sky TG24, reported that Pope Francis told the priests that an LGBT organization cannot be blessed, but people can always be blessed and that the declaration will not be implemented in Africa “because the culture does not accept it.” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the vicar of Rome, told the Italian television channel Rai News 24: “Responding to requests from an African cardinal, the pontiff clarified the situation: the intention of the declaration is to bless people.”
• Source: www.catholicnewsagency
…Says in Christianity, there is no condemnation of sexual instinct
By Matthew Santucci
In a continuation of his catechetical series on vice and virtue, Pope Francis on Wednesday dedicated his general audience to highlighting the difference between love and lust, arguing that “in Christianity, there is no condemnation of the sexual instinct.” Centering his reflection on the “human experience,” the pope drew upon the Song of Songs, also referred to as the Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Solomon, which he called a “wonderful poem of love between two lovers” that reveals falling in love “is one of the most astonishing realities of existence.”
The pope observed that in this process there is an altruistic factor in which “a person in love becomes generous, enjoys giving gifts, writes letters and poems. He stops thinking of himself to be completely focused on the other.” “To love is to respect the other, to seek his or her happiness, to cultivate empathy for his or her feelings, to dispose oneself in the knowledge of a body, a psychology, and a soul that are not our own, and that must be contemplated for the beauty they bear,” the pope said to the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
The Holy Father noted, however, that this notion of love requires “patience,” especially if it is “naive,” whereby “the lover does not truly know the face of the other, they tend to idealize them, they are ready to make promises whose weight they do not immediately grasp.” The pope said that while “falling in love is one of the purest feelings” there is the risk that it could be “polluted by vice.” “This ‘garden’ where wonders are multiplied is not, however, safe from evil” as it has been “defiled by the demon of lust,” a vice that is “particularly odious” because it “destroys relationships between people,” Francis said. Reflecting on the modern paradigm of dating and romance, the pope asked: “How many relationships that began in the best of ways have then turned into toxic relationships, of possession of the other, lacking respect and a sense of limits?”
“These are loves in which chastity has been missing: a virtue not to be confused with sexual abstinence, but rather with the will never to possess the other,” the Holy Father continued. “It plunders, it robs, it consumes in haste, it does not want to listen to the other but only to its own need and pleasure. Lust judges every courtship a bore, it does not seek that synthesis between reason, drive, and feeling that would help us to conduct existence wisely.” Observing that romantic pursuits that are predicated upon lust “seek only shortcuts,” the pope emphasized that “the road to love must be traveled slowly, and this patience, far from being synonymous with boredom, allows us to make our loving relationships happy.”
The pope presented an additional reason why lust is so devious, saying: “It involves all the senses; it dwells both in the body and in the psyche.” “If not disciplined with patience, if not inscribed in a relationship and in a story where two individuals transform it into a loving dance, it turns into a chain that deprives human beings of freedom,” the Holy Father added. The pope closed his reflection by noting that the “battle” against lust and the objectification of human beings is a “lifelong” process. However, it is one that preserves “that beauty that God wrote into his creation when he imagined love between man and woman.” “That beauty that makes us believe that building a story together is better than going on adventures, cultivating tenderness is better than bowing to the demon of possession, serving is better than conquering,” the pope said.