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Our readersFebruary 15, 2024
(OSV News photo/Thilo Schmuelgen, Reuters)

On Dec. 18, 2023, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released “Fiducia Supplicans,” a declaration that allowed priests to give simple or pastoral blessings to couples in irregular situations, including those in same-sex relationships. In our February 2024 issue, America’s editors stated that the declaration does not change church teaching on marriage but allows the church to accompany all people who seek God’s blessing, writing, “It challenges those whose instinct is that true pastoral charity can be shown only by teaching hard moral truths and calling sinners to conversion.” Many readers agreed with the editors on “Fiducia Supplicans,” but others were skeptical about the declaration’s efficacy and impact on church unity.

Whenever L.G.B.T.Q. topics come up, I am reminded of how Jesus responded when the Pharisees dragged before him a woman accused of adultery. He didn’t interrogate her before he offered her the blessing of his presence, his gaze, his conversation and his instruction. He didn’t express concern about whether his gentleness toward her might be misconstrued. And he did not first demand that she repent. He just looked at her, loved her, then told her to go and sin no more. None of us should expect anything less from the church.
Laura Fratus

The editors write that under a focus on pastoral closeness, “the church always has a duty to accompany people who seek God’s blessing, even in morally complicated and imperfect situations.” I have yet to meet anybody who is not morally complicated or who lives in a perfect situation, certainly not in my mirror. This call to closeness should be good news to everybody. The editors also write that this call “challenges those who may assume that church teaching must change, or be on the way toward changing, in order for such accompaniment to be authentic.” Guilty as charged. I admit that I hope “Fiducia Supplicans” is a step in the right direction and that other steps are coming. That would make it much easier to convince some friends to come to Mass.
Gwen Murtha

I think most of the world is confused by this document. Entire bishops’ conferences are rejecting it, as are many bishops and priests throughout the world. Even some bishops are ignoring and violating “Fiducia Supplicans” and performing ritualized and planned ceremonies. If Pope Francis’ goal was to unify and clarify, he has failed to do so. 
Vern Caldwell

The editors write: “How can the church unite clarity of teaching with pastoral closeness to people in their struggles? That challenge has been present throughout Pope Francis’ papal ministry and deserves deeper reflection beyond any single magisterial document.” We are called, I think, as individuals and as a church to “experience the nearness of the Father, beyond all ‘merits’ and ‘desires,’” as stated in “Fiducia Supplicans.” My experiences as a teacher taught me that, with some very rare exceptions of children who were emotionally disturbed, mistake after mistake after mistake in both academics and in behavior is to be endured without loss of closeness to the individual. I may have failed in that goal sometimes, but I tried. And Francis and the church teaches us to try as well.
Vincent Gaglione

The declaration’s emphasis that it has not changed traditional church teaching is troublesome to me because I learned that sexual activity outside of marriage is grievously wrong. More significantly, why does the pope or the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith fail to give any similar emphasis to either the sacrament of matrimony (that is, between men and women) or the hallowed joy of conjugal love between a man and a woman? Worst of all, this declaration inspires so much confusion and misinformation about genuine love of our neighbor, especially those who need the good news of the Gospel, which could be avoided if the declaration were edited to change the word “couple” to “people”!
Robert O’Connell

It seems to me that the voice of the Holy Spirit is being ignored in this discussion. Aren’t we all being challenged to imitate Christ, who looked into the eyes of sinners and received them without hesitation or judgment? There was no condition placed on a sinner before meeting them in their brokenness. Jesus healed, welcomed, cleansed, fed and consoled because love is unconditional. Not a single person asked to be forgiven before Christ conveyed his love and mercy. The encounter with each person’s soul was transforming, even though the Gospels don’t document all the inner miracles of grace received.
Sharon Malay

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