“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 five-page 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.”