Pope Francis at a meeting with priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran on Jan. 13, 2024. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jan 15, 2024 / 09:37 am (CNA).

Pope Francis responded publicly to questions about the Vatican’s declaration on blessings for same-sex couples for the first time in a television interview on Sunday night. 

In an appearance on an Italian talk show on Jan. 14, the 87-year-old pope was asked if he “felt alone” after the publication of Fiducia Supplicans was met with some resistance.

“Sometimes decisions are not accepted,” Pope Francis replied. “But in most cases, when you don’t accept a decision, it’s because you don’t understand.”

The pope underlined that “the Lord blesses everyone” and that a blessing is an invitation to enter into a conversation “to see what the road is that the Lord proposes to them.”

“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 non-liturgical 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.”

Pope Francis also responded to questions about the declaration on same-sex blessings during a closed-door meeting with 800 priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran on Saturday morning. 

According to the Vatican-owned media outlet Vatican News, the pope said that the Church’s doctrine on the Sacrament of Marriage between a man and a woman has not changed and that “people are blessed, not sin.”

Other Italian media outlets, including the Italian news channel Sky TG24, reported that Pope Francis told the priests that an LGBT organization cannot be blessed, but people can always be blessed and that the declaration will not be implemented in Africa “because the culture does not accept it.”

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the vicar of Rome, told the Italian television channel Rai News 24: “Responding to requests from an African cardinal, the pontiff clarified the situation: the intention of the declaration is to bless people.”

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