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Move to calm perplexed bishops on same-sex blessings

The Vatican says Pope Francis is giving local churches wide leeway on applying blessing guidelines .

The Vatican says Pope Francis is giving local churches wide leeway on applying blessing guidelines . Photo: AAP

The Vatican has moved to calm Catholic bishops in some countries who have reacted negatively to last month’s approval of blessings for same-sex couples, telling them that the measure is not “heretical” or “blasphemous”.

In a five-page statement, the Vatican’s doctrinal office also acknowledged that such blessings could be “imprudent” in some countries where people who receive them might become targets of violence, or risk prison or even death.

Catholic bishops in some countries, particularly in Africa, have expressed perplexity and various degrees of dissent over the December 18 declaration, known by its Latin title Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust).

The fact that the Vatican needed to issue a five-page clarification of an eight-page declaration little more than two weeks after it was issued appeared to underscore the extent of the confusion it caused in many countries.

After the original declaration was issued, a number of Catholic bishops’ conferences issued statements stressing that the blessings did not amount to an official approval of gay sex or a sacrament of marriage for same-sex couples.

The doctrinal office, known as the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, stressed these aspects in its statement on Thursday, saying that blessings for same-sex couples should not be seen as “a justification of all their actions, and they are not an endorsement of the life that they lead”.

The office said it wanted “to clarify the reception of Fiducia Supplicans while recommending at the same time a full and calm reading” of the December 18 declaration.

“Evidently, there is no room to distance ourselves doctrinally from this declaration or to consider it heretical, contrary to the Tradition of the Church or blasphemous,” Thursday’s statement said.

The Vatican office also pointed out on Thursday that Pope Francis is giving local churches wide leeway in how the new guidelines on the blessings are applied.

—AAP with DPA

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