The Declaration Fiducia Supplicans on the pastoral meaning of blessings was published with the approval of Pope Francis by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 18, 2023. The document, by opening up the possibility of blessing same-sex couples, has provoked various reactions and interpretations. We will first try to present the content of the Declaration, which, in the meantime, has been the subject of a special press release from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on its reception. Following this, we will offer a reflection on the pastoral issues raised.
The contents of the Declaration
In his presentation at the beginning of the document, Cardinal Víctor Fernández reiterates that the work of the Dicastery over which he presides “must foster, along with an understanding of the Church’s perennial doctrine, the reception of the Holy Father’s teaching.” He next stresses that the Declaration “remains firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church on marriage, ruling out any type of liturgical rite or blessing similar to a liturgical rite that could create confusion.” Instead, the purpose of the document is “to offer a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings,” with the aim of “permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings, which is closely linked to a liturgical perspective.” Then the presentation acknowledges that “such theological reflection, based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis, implies a real development from what has been said about blessings in the Magisterium and the official texts of the Church,” which is why the text has taken the form of a Declaration. In this context of “real development,” the document admits “the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.”