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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis recently discussed with 800 members of the Roman clergy his stance on blessing gay couples.
The dialogue came on Friday at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, where Francis held a closed-door meeting that lasted nearly three hours.
According to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, the pope emphasized that Fiducia Supplicans (FS), the Church's recent document on blessing gay couples, focuses on blessing "persons, not organizations."
The discussion also touched on the cultural acceptance of FS.
Responding to an African cardinal's inquiries, Pope Francis again emphasized the measure's focus on blessing people, not relationships or organizations.
He noted that in African cultures, FS might not be adopted due to prevailing cultural attitudes. But he insisted the document is about blessing people and not sin.
The pontiff offered an analogy of blessing a businessman without inquiring into the businessman's possible business-related misconduct.
The Vatican's doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a declaration in 2021 that while "God Himself never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world," God "does not and cannot bless sin."
Rather, the document stated, God "blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him."
Earlier this month, the African Catholic leadership unanimously rejected the authorization of blessings for same-sex unions.
In a collective response, the bishops stated that implementing such blessings in Africa would lead to confusion and contradict the continent's cultural ethos.
While maintaining respect for individuals with homosexual tendencies, the bishops emphasized that same-sex unions cannot receive the Church's blessing.
Despite Pope Francis' explanations at the closed-door meeting on Sunday, the Church in Africa remains at odds with the Vatican regarding FS.
Moreover, the Church in Africa is not the only entity opposing FS. Since its release in December, other regions — including bishops' conferences in Hungary, Poland and Kazakhstan — have expressed dissent, reflecting a growing global divide within the Church on this issue.
According to sources at the meeting, the pope concluded by stressing the importance of managing conflicts within the Church, rather than concealing them.
He emphasized that rigidity and loss of ecclesial sense are harmful, advocating for harmony inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis also announced plans to resume visiting local parishes, a practice halted in recent years.