February 08, World (LNW): Pope Francis has responded to critics of his decision to permit blessings for same-sex couples, condemning what he sees as ‘hypocrisy’ in their objections.
In an interview featured in the upcoming edition of the Italian magazine Credere, set to be published on Thursday, February 8, the Pope addressed the controversy surrounding his authorisation of informal blessings for couples in “irregular” unions, including same-sex partnerships.
He highlighted the inconsistency of critics who find no fault in blessing individuals engaged in exploitative behaviour but express outrage over blessings for same-sex couples.
Last year, Pope Francis made history by becoming the first Pope to authorise priests to bestow informal blessings on couples in non-traditional unions, a departure from previous Vatican policy.
This historic move marked a significant shift in the Church’s stance on LGBTQIA+ issues, eliciting varied reactions worldwide.
While many in Western churches welcomed the decision, the response from African bishops differed. They opted not to offer blessings for same-sex couples, citing cultural considerations and potential confusion within African communities.
Despite this disagreement, the African bishops reaffirmed their loyalty to the Pope.
Criticism of the Pope’s decision has also emerged from conservative factions within the Church, primarily in the United States and parts of Europe.
Pope Francis characterised these critics as belonging to “small ideological groups” in previous statements.
In his interview with Credere, the Pope clarified that the blessings he authorised are not for the union itself but for the individuals involved. He emphasised that he blesses two people who love each other, regardless of their sexual orientation, and requests their prayers.
The Pope stressed that blessings should be accessible to all who seek them, including those in non-traditional relationships, provided they meet the criteria for church participation.
Pope Francis’ advocacy for LGBTQIA+ inclusivity aligns with his broader efforts to foster a more compassionate and accepting approach within the Catholic Church. However, resistance persists from certain segments of Catholicism.
In addressing questions about his health and mobility, Pope Francis underscored the importance of church leaders being attuned to the needs and experiences of ordinary people. He further emphasised that effective leadership is not contingent upon physical mobility but rather on empathy and genuine connection with the faithful.