Pope Francis has now signed off on Catholic priests blessing gay couples. It is a major step forward in recognizing that gay people exist and gay love happens and gay unions are real and gay love is love and, after all, didn’t someone once say that “God is love”? (See 1 Jn 4.16).
And Love comes in many and diverse expressions and the Bible does not say “God is heterosexual love” exclusively. And a majority of thoughtful people (Catholics included) have made up their minds that homosexual love can be as real as heterosexual love and besides, “Who are we to judge?” as Pope Francis asked back in 2013.
The Declaration called “Fiducia Supplicans” on “the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings” was signed by its new prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, the new head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Francis signed off on it and is cited 20 times in the formal document.
The document is about blessings of which it distinguishes between descending ones (coming from God directly such as creation) and ascending ones (humans thanking and blessing God) and it acknowledges that blessing a gay couple combines both.
There are many caveats in the document about not confusing an informal blessing with a liturgical one, etc. etc. And an admonition NOT to overly formalize or ritualize the blessing at hand. Most gay couples I know would welcome that invite to creativity.
One issue left out is that priests offer a blessing in marriages and are witnesses to it but the couple themselves are the agents of the sacrament. Marriage is a sacrament that couples bestow on one another. Gay marriage is no different.
Another lacuna is that, while creation is invoked nicely as one of the important blessings from the Creator, there is no reference to science that tells us that homosexuality is altogether natural for about 8-10% of any given human population. Also, that 484 other species have gay and lesbian populations.
There is no mention of the spiritual leadership that indigenous peoples the world over recognize in gay people.
But it is a step forward and one welcomes how even church doctrines evolve as Saint Henry Newman wrote about 175 years ago.* Science also evolves. Praising Pope Francis for his courage, one also looks to further steps in the future as the word gets out that sexuality, itself a blessing, is diverse like so much else in creation.
*John Henry Newman, Essay on the Development of Doctrine.
See Matthew Fox, “The Spiritual Journey of the Homosexual…and Just About Everyone Else,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 243-266.
And Fox, Original Blessing.
Banner Image: “Gay Marriage NYC, 2011” Photo by Jose Antonio Navas, on Flickr
Queries for Contemplation
What is your response to Pope Francis allowing blessings of gay unions?
Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life
In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story