Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The day before I wrote this article the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a new document regarding blessings of people in same sex relationships (or other non-sacramental unions) that has raised a number of questions. The US bishops’ conference has issued the following statement:
“The Declaration issued today by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) articulated a distinction between liturgical (sacramental) blessings, and pastoral blessings, which may be given to persons who desire God’s loving grace in their lives. The Church’s teaching on marriage has not changed, and this declaration affirms that, while also making an effort to accompany people through the imparting of pastoral blessings because each of us needs God’s healing love and mercy in our lives.”
This is not a liturgical blessing or ceremony. From what I have read so far (I have not finished the document) it seems analogous to when people come up to a priest after Mass asking for a blessing. We don’t know that person’s state of life, but pray that the Lord help them.
Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, is not a Holy Day of Obligation in our area. The bishops of the region have dispensed us from the obligation to attend Mass. However, you are invited and encouraged to come and celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and ask her intercession as we begin the new year. It is also the World Day of Prayer for Peace. Please take some time to pray for peace in the world, but especially peace in your heart and your home. When we are peaceful, we can help others (and eventually society) to be peaceful. Have a Happy New Year!
Bishop Tim Freyer