Bishop Eric Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops’ Conference. / Credit: Bishopric of Reims and the Ardennes

ACI Prensa Staff, Jan 11, 2024 / 18:30 pm (CNA).

The Permanent Council of the French Bishops’ Conference has expressed its support for the Fiducia Supplicans declaration of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on pastoral blessings.

The council noted in a Jan. 10 statement that “it had a certain impact on public opinion, in particular because of the sensitive topics that it addresses: the accompaniment in the Church for homosexual persons living as a couple” and “divorced persons engaged in a life as a couple.”

The Permanent Council said it received the declaration “as an encouragement to pastors to generously bless those who approach them humbly asking for God’s help.”

Pastors, the French prelates said, “thus accompany them on their journey of faith so that they discover the call of God in their own existence and respond concretely to it.”

The brief statement from the Permanent Council noted that the declaration reiterated the Catholic Church’s doctrine on marriage as an “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union, between a man and woman, naturally open to the generation of children,” a teaching that, they stressed, “we receive from Jesus himself.”

The text of the French prelates also pointed out that from Jesus Christ we also receive the call “to an unconditional and merciful welcome.”

The bishops said that Fiducia Supplicans states that “those not living in a situation allowing them to make a commitment in the sacrament of marriage are not excluded either from the love of God or from his Church.”

The Church, they said, at the same time, “encourages them in their desire to draw near God to benefit from the comfort of his presence and to implore the grace to conform their lives to the Gospel.”

The statement concluded by stating that “it is in particular through prayers of blessing, given in a spontaneous, ‘not ritualized’ form (No. 36), outside of any sign susceptible of being similar to the celebration of marriage, that the ministers of the Church will be able to demonstrate this broad and unconditional welcome.”

However, prior to this nine bishops from France instructed priests in their dioceses that they may bless homosexual individuals but should refrain from blessing same-sex couples, in wake of the new Vatican guidelines that permit nonliturgical pastoral blessings of homosexual couples.

The Archdiocese of Rennes, which is led by Archbishop Pierre d’Ornellas, issued the statement on Jan. 1 on behalf of the bishops from the Ecclesiastical Province of Rennes.

The bishops detailed the various problems they found with the Fiducia Supplicans declaration.

The statement was signed by d’Ornellas, head of the ecclesiastical province, as well as Bishop Raymond Centène of Vannes, Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers, Bishop Laurent Dognin of Quimper, Bishop François Jacolin of Luçon, Bishop Denis Moutel of Saint-Brieuc, Bishop Laurent Percerou of Nantes, Bishop Jean-Pierre Vuillemin of Le Mans, Auxiliary Bishop Jean Bondu of Rennes, and Father Frédéric Foucher, diocesan administrator of Laval.

Peter Pinedo contributed to this story.

This story was first publishedby ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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