In a recent online communique, Bishop Robert Pipta discussed Pope Francis’ new declaration Fiducia Supplicans and stated that the Church cannot bless romantic relationships between people of the same sex.
“Important to note is that, in our society, the word ‘couple’ has come to be understood as two people who have entered a relationship that is either one of dating, engagement, or marriage,” Pipta stated. “According to Church teaching, two people of the same sex cannot be in any of these types of relationships. There can never be a Church blessing for these.”
The bishop added that “there are relationships between one man and one woman that, likewise, cannot be blessed unless the priest has confidence that the relationship will grow into a valid marriage recognized by the Church.”
Pipta did not reject Fiducia Supplicans directly. He praised its “clarity” regarding different kinds of blessings. He stated that the declaration “guides us by stating that those who seek blessings only do so appropriately when they, ‘recognizing themselves to be destitute and in need of (God’s) help—do not claim a legitimation of their own status but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.’(#31)”
He also interpreted the document as providing clarity for “Catholic faithful” regarding something Catholic priests apparently already know from their ministry to same-sex attracted individuals. Pipta did not state exactly what this knowledge is. Instead, he mentioned that there are Byzantine priests who minister to same-sex attracted people through Courage, an orthodox Catholic ministry encouraging chastity, and that one priest had shared with him that, after each Courage session, “individuals spontaneously ask for his blessing.”
“He understands that in asking for this blessing each is asking for the grace to continue to live a chaste and holy life,” Pipta wrote.
Fiducia Supplicans, signed by the most recent prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Victor Emmanuel “Tucho” Fernandez, and approved by Pope Francis, was released on December 18, 2023. Its suggestion that couples in irregular unions and same-sex couples might receive “non-liturgical blessings” created both an uproar and photo opportunities for LGBT activist-priests within the Catholic Church.
Its reception also revealed a doctrinal divide in the Catholic Church between the Global South, particularly Africa, where many bishops rejected the notion of blessing same-sex couples, and Western Europe, where liturgical blessings of same-sex unions are not unknown. In addition, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church stated that Fiducia Supplicans “interprets the pastoral meaning of blessings in the Latin Church, not in the Eastern Catholic Churches,” and in accord with Canon Law did not bind the Ukrainian Greek Catholics. At the same time, however, bishops of the Ukrainian Roman Catholic Church also criticized the notion of blessings for same-sex couples and stated that they would not permit them.