Pope Francis has responded to criticism of his decision to allow priests to bless same-sex couples, labeling the opposition as “hypocrisy.”
The authorization of blessings for LGBT couples was granted last month through a Vatican document named Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust).
However, this decision has faced significant pushback within the Catholic Church, especially from African bishops.
“Nobody gets scandalised if I give my blessings to a businessman who perhaps exploits people, and this is a very grave sin. But they get scandalised if I give them to a homosexual,” Francis told Italian Catholic magazine Credere.
“This is hypocrisy,” he said.
Credere released excerpts of the interview on Wednesday, one day before its scheduled publication date.
Additionally, Francis affirmed that he “always” extends a welcome to LGBT individuals and remarried divorcees for the sacrament of confession, as reported by another passage published by Vatican media.
“No one should be denied a blessing. Everyone, everyone, everyone” the pontiff said, repeating a three-word slogan he used in August during a Catholic youth festival in Portugal.
At the outset of his papacy, Francis famously remarked “Who am I to judge?” when questioned about homosexuality, signaling his intention to foster a more inclusive and compassionate Catholic Church.
Making the Church more welcoming and less judgmental has become one of Francis’s key objectives, despite facing criticism from conservatives who argue that this approach risks diluting the Church’s moral teachings.
Francis has consistently defended the Vatican document Fiducia Supplicans, which authorized blessings for same-sex couples, while acknowledging the resistance it has encountered. He has emphasized the importance of priests considering local sensitivities when administering these blessings.
Furthermore, Francis has clarified that these blessings do not signify formal Church approval for same-sex unions, seeking to address concerns within the Church about maintaining doctrinal integrity.
“When a couple comes forward spontaneously to ask for them, one does not bless the union, but simply the people who together have requested it. Not the union, but the persons,” Francis said on Jan. 26.
The Catholic Church maintains that homosexual acts are considered sinful and disordered, while individuals with same-sex attractions, which are not deemed sinful, are encouraged to pursue chastity.
In a recent interview published by Italy’s La Stampa daily, Francis expressed hope that critics of LGBT blessings would eventually come to understand them. However, he acknowledged that opposition to homosexuality, particularly prevalent in Africa, posed a unique challenge.
Bishops in Africa have largely rejected the Vatican document Fiducia Supplicans, arguing that its application could lead to scandal. Both Pope Francis and Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department, have acknowledged the validity of this stance.
In some African nations, homosexuality is met with severe punishment, including imprisonment or even the death penalty, underscoring the significant cultural and legal barriers facing LGBT individuals in certain regions.