WATCH: Pope Francis Clarifies Stance On Same Sex Unions In 60 Minutes Interview

By Tommy Wilson | Tuesday, 21 May 2024 10:30 AM
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In a rare interview with CBS "60 Minutes," Pope Francis clarified the Catholic Church's position on same-sex couples, emphasizing that while individual blessings are permissible, the Church does not sanction the blessing of same-sex unions.

This clarification came in response to a question from anchor Norah O'Donnell, who asked the Pope about his decision last year to allow Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples, a move that was perceived as a significant shift in Vatican policy.

"No, what I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way," Pope Francis responded, in comments translated into English. "But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone. To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!"

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The Pope's remarks were in reference to a letter he sent to two conservative cardinals in October, suggesting that blessings could be offered under certain conditions, provided those receiving the blessing did not misconstrue the ritual as an endorsement of same-sex marriage. This was widely misinterpreted by the media as a change in the Church's stance on same-sex marriage. However, the Pope's intention was to affirm that all individuals are deserving of blessings.

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The Church Catechism defines a blessing as "a prayer invoking God’s power and care upon some person, place, thing or undertaking." Despite the Pope's clarification, his comments sparked controversy among some members of the Catholic community, particularly in the United States, where traditional Catholics and some bishops criticized his remarks.

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a guidance last year following the release of "Fiducia supplicans," a document that approved pastoral blessings for remarried individuals and people in same-sex relationships under strict conditions. The guidance emphasized that "the Church’s teaching on marriage has not changed."

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Pope Francis, who has been leading the Church since 2013, has been known for his progressive stance on various social issues. Last year, he criticized governments that criminalize homosexuality, asserting that while it remains a sin, it is not a crime. When asked about his previous comments on homosexuality, the Pope responded, "It is a human fact."

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In response to a question about the opposition from conservative bishops in the United States to his efforts to revisit Church teachings and traditions, Pope Francis said, "You used an adjective, ‘conservative.’ That is, conservative is one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that. It is a suicidal attitude. Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box."

Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, has made global headlines through his public addressing of social issues and his efforts to reform the Church's handling of sexual abuse scandals.

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