Nine dioceses in France reject Fiducia supplicans - only individuals can be blessed

Fiducia supplicans: some French bishops react

In a note addressed on January 4, 2024 to the priests of their nine dioceses, the ten bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Rennes react to the declaration “Fiducia supplicans” concerning the blessing of irregular couples. In France, this is only the second reaction since the publication of this document which disturbs many Catholics.

A few weeks after the publication by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith of the declaration Fiducia supplicans, the reactions of the French Bishops are gradually becoming known. In a note sent this Thursday, January 4, 2024, the nine Bishops and an apostolic administrator of the ecclesiastical province of Rennes which includes nine dioceses (Rennes, Laval, Angers, Quimper, Vannes, Le Mans, Luçon, Nantes and Saint-Brieuc) ask expressly to their priests and deacons to bless individuals individually, and not couples in an irregular situation or of the same sex.

While the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF) remains silent on the subject, these bishops recall above all that the declaration establishes the principle of the “possibility” of blessing same-sex couples, and not the obligation to do so. . “In fact, it invites us to discern,” they note. It is therefore preferable not to contribute to creating “confusion” or “scandal”, which is why “it is appropriate to bless spontaneously, individually, each of the two people forming a couple, whatever their sexual orientation.” , who ask God's blessing with humility and with the desire to conform themselves more and more to his holy will. "

“Let us not allow ourselves to be caught up in the whirlwind of the varied reactions that it [the Fiducia supplicans declaration] arouses,” urge the bishops of the province at the beginning of this note, as if to respond to the disturbance aroused by the declaration of the Holy See . The bishops then reassure the faithful: if it is indeed the notion of “pastoral charity” that the Dicastery for the doctrine of the faith wanted to put forward, nothing calls into question the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding marriage . This remains, as Pope Francis recalled in his response to the Dubias of July 10, 2023, “an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children. »

Discretion of the Bishops of France

This is the second position taken in France regarding the interpretation to be given to the text of the dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. If several eminent bishops from around the world reacted in the wake of its publication by rejoicing or deploring the publication of Fiducia supplicans, the French Bishops did not stand out to appreciate the reception of the text which has an important magisterial value . Only Mgr Marc Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron, spoke on the subject, almost ten days after the publication of the document. The latter expressed strong reservations, regretting the exploitation of the declaration “by the secular world, and in particular by LGBT lobbies who finally see it as recognition by the Church of homosexual relations”. After indicating that the declaration in no way called into question the very essence of marriage and the teaching of the Church on this subject, the bishop recommended avoiding blessings, even pastoral ones (which do not have a liturgical character , editor’s note), homosexual couples.

“I fully subscribe to the will of the Holy Father to insist on the pastoral charity of the priest called to bring the unconditional love of God close to every man,” insists Mgr Aillet. However, he considers, "granting a blessing to a homosexual 'couple', no longer just to two individual people, seems thereby to endorse the homosexual activity which links them, even if, once again, it is specified although this union cannot be equated to marriage. » Priests are therefore invited by Mgr Aillet to welcome irregular and homosexual couples with the greatest kindness, but also to “have the courage (…) to clearly tell them the Truth that the Church teaches about their situation. » If people request it, they can receive an individual blessing.

Vatican response

The Vatican's response While many voices were raised to express their incomprehension regarding the Fiducia supplicans declaration, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez published a statement on 4 January 2024 to "help clarify the reception" of the text. He concedes that its implementation may "allow for different modalities of application" depending on the local context, "but not a total or definitive negation". He also offers an example of a blessing prayer lasting "ten or fifteen seconds".