In a recent interview with Italian Catholic magazine Credere, Pope Francis addressed criticism of his decision to allow priests to bless same-sex couples, labeling the opposition as “hypocrisy.” This move, authorized through a Vatican document called Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust), has sparked significant resistance within the Catholic Church, particularly from some African bishops.
Francis expressed frustration with the double standard applied to blessings, highlighting the lack of scandal when blessing individuals involved in exploitative behavior while facing backlash for blessing same-sex couples. He emphasized the need to move beyond such hypocrisy, pointing out that blessing a homosexual individual should not be more controversial than blessing a businessman who may exploit others.
This defense represents one of Pope Francis’s strongest statements in support of LGBTQ+ rights within the Catholic Church. Since the beginning of his papacy, he has sought to promote a more inclusive and less judgmental stance toward LGBTQ+ individuals, famously stating, “Who am I to judge?” on the topic of homosexuality.
Despite facing opposition, Francis has remained steadfast in his support of Fiducia Supplicans, reiterating that blessings for same-sex couples do not equate to formal Church approval of same-sex unions. He clarified that when couples request blessings, it is the individuals themselves who are blessed, not their union.
However, conservative factions within the Church have raised concerns about the potential undermining of traditional moral teachings. The Catholic Church officially teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, and individuals with same-sex attractions are encouraged to lead chaste lives.
Acknowledging the opposition, Pope Francis expressed hope that critics would eventually come to understand the significance of LGBTQ+ blessings. However, he noted that opposition to homosexuality, particularly in African countries where it is severely punished, presents a unique challenge. Some African bishops have rejected Fiducia Supplicans, reflecting broader societal attitudes toward homosexuality in certain regions where it can lead to imprisonment or even death.
As the Catholic Church grapples with evolving societal norms and internal divisions, Pope Francis’s defense of same-sex blessings underscores his commitment to fostering a more inclusive and compassionate Church, even in the face of resistance.