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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo

Students and alumni discuss Pope Francis and the Fiducia Supplicans

Roman Catholic Church addresses blessings

Pope Francis officially approved letting priests bless unmarried, same-sex couples on Dec. 18, 2023.

Bishop Robert Barron of Winoa-Rochester said that the “Fiducia Supplicans” in no way called for a change in the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.  

“The blessings that it allows for those in irregular relationships are not liturgical in nature and hence do not imply any approbation of such relationships,” Barrons said. “Rather, these benedictions are informal and spontaneous, designed to call upon God’s mercy to heal, guide, and strengthen.” 

In the Vatican declaration “Fiducia Supplicans”, the church is to avoid giving rites that contradict or confuse the traditional union of marriage between one man and one woman.

The declaration describes different blessings, including guidelines for priests to bless same-sex couples. 

Section 32 of “Fiducia Supplicans” reads that God’s grace works in the lives of those “who do not claim to be righteous but who acknowledge themselves humbly as sinners, like everyone else.” 

“Therefore, with its untiring wisdom and motherly care, the Church welcomes all who approach God with humble hearts, accompanying them with those spiritual aids that enable everyone to understand and realize God’s will fully in their existence,” the “Fiducia Supplicans” said

In section 33 of “Fiducia Supplicans,” a priest's blessing — which is not liturgical — unites the sinner’s prayer with asking for God’s help. God never turns away from anyone who approaches him. The request for a blessing expresses and nurtures openness to God’s transcendence, mercy and closeness.

Sophomore Isaac Eaton at Taylor University was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. He viewed section 33 — the blessing of couples of the same sex — as an act of mercy. 

“But I also think that there's both sides to it,” he said. 

He thought that the document could also be a slippery slope. He posed the question: What message are we trying to promote? 

Elizabeth Hartmann, a Taylor University alumna in professional writing, converted to Catholicism in 2022. She now works on her master’s in Catholic theology at Franciscan University. 

The “Fiducia Supplicans” upholds the eternal truths of the gospel’s Scriptural plan for marriage — which has, will not and cannot change, she said. Instead, the document encourages the spontaneous blessing of individuals who are seeking healing and strength from God.

“It also gives guidance to priests on their pastoral care for brokenhearted people who've seen the grace of God and to draw them closer to the will of God,” Hartmann said.

The media headlines covering “Fiducia Supplicans,” Hartmann said, distract from Christ’s truth on the sanctity of marriage. It also diminishes the hurts and wounds of people with same-sex attraction — the wounds and hurts that Christians ought to address and speak truth into.

Junior Jacob Mattson is in the process of joining the Roman Catholic Church. Like Hartmann, he cautioned people from taking media headlines at face-value concerning “Fiducia Supplicans.”  

“This (‘Fiducia Supplicans’) is not doing what people think it's doing, and I'm even more convinced of it now after reading it for the second or third time,” Mattson said.

Mattson said the document isn’t a mandate as much as an authorization to bless those who are seeking it. 

Reading the document requires thinking; not everything in the document is spelled out, which was Mattson’s one critique.  

Just because people misinterpreted the document, Mattson didn’t believe that discredited the document or meant it was bad. He compared it to peoples’ misinterpretations of Scripture or church history. 

As a challenge to Protestants and Catholics he encourages Taylor students to read the “Fiducia Supplicans.” 

“I want to drive home this point,” Mattson said. “Read the document. Do not have your nice little dinner conversations about, ‘Did you hear about ‘Fiducia Supplicans?’ Yeah, can you believe that?' until you've actually read the document. At least do that — at least once — preferably twice, read it carefully, which will take your time.”

You can read the “Fiducia Supplicans” at: Declaration Fiducia Supplicans On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings (18 December 2023)