France’s bishops stand united behind papal decree

France’s bishops stand united behind papal decree Photo: Vatican News

Paris (KNA) The French Bishops’ Conference is unanimously in favour of the Vatican document on the blessing of homosexual couples. The declaration issued by the Vatican’s authority on the faith in December is seen as an encouragement to priests to “generously bless those who turn to them and humbly ask for God’s help”, according to a statement issued by the Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Wednesday.

The Vatican document “Fiducia supplicans” of 18 December also recalls the Catholic doctrine of marriage as an “exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the procreation of children”, the Permanent Council said.

France’s bishops remind us that Christ “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” with the biblical quotation from Mark 2. Those who do not live in a situation that allows them to receive the sacrament of marriage are neither excluded from the love of God nor from his Church. We want to encourage people in their desire to draw closer to God and ask for his consolation.

The Vatican document, which allows priests to bless homosexual couples outside of the liturgy with the express authorisation of Pope Francis, has caused international unrest within the Church. Several African bishops’ conferences and the bishops of Kazakhstan publicly distanced themselves from the document and prohibited such blessing ceremonies.

The former head of the Vatican authorities and Curia Cardinal Robert Sarah spoke of heresy. The German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, former head of the Vatican’s religious authority, criticised the fact that there are no biblical texts or texts from the Fathers of the Church or Doctors of the Church or earlier documents from the Magisterium that support the conclusions of “Fiducia supplicans”. It is therefore a breach of church tradition. Moreover, a “sinful institution” such as homosexual partnerships could not be blessed by the Church.

The new Archbishop of Madrid, Jose Cobo Cano, a Francis man, recently felt compelled to declare that the Vatican declaration would be fully implemented in his diocese after resistance from his priesthood.