"My Brothers in Christ,
The recent release of the Declaration “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” has caused some confusion about priestly blessings. As priests and deacons, we are constantly called to offer a blessing and we do so with generous hearts.
In a pastoral sense, we do not subject the person requesting a blessing to a rigorous examination, but accept the person’s disposition. Some may be saints while others, including ourselves, are sinners.
So, our blessing is not a sanction of those that do not live in accord with the teachings of Christ. Rather, our blessings are a prayerful hope that those who receive the blessing will seek to turn toward God and live lives of holiness and be directed toward a sense of conversion.
The document is clear that this is not a sanctioning of irregular relationships (those married outside the church or in same-sex unions). Therefore, there should be no formal presentation that would, in anyway, indicate a sanctioning of an illicit union.
Our Chancery Office has offered guidelines to assist in dealing with these pastoral situations.
A) You are not blessing the couple. You are not blessing a “union.” You are blessing two individuals as you would bless anyone.
B) You may not wear liturgical garb of any kind.
C) It may not be in the church or in a Catholic chapel.
D) It cannot have the appearance of a wedding ritual or be associated or timed in proximity with a civil ceremony.
We are ordained by the Church to accompany our people in their journey through life. We know that the clearest direction is through Jesus who is the “Way, the Truth and the Life.” He established His Church to guide and direct us. As priests, you have been ordained to serve His Church “in persona Christi.” The deacon's vocation calls him to collaborate with the bishop and the priests in an exercise of a ministry that is not of their own but the Word of God — calling all to conversion and holiness.
Through your faithfulness to His Church, you will assist all to experience the love of Jesus Christ. I trust your pastoral discretion to navigate the waters of these blessings. Such blessings offer hope to those who seek a blessing and challenge to those who need direction and conversion.
Thank you for the love you demonstrate toward the people you serve. May God BLESS you in your ministry.
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee"