(OSV News) — Two Eastern Catholic bishops have issued statements with in-depth theological and canonical reasons for their rejection of a controversial Vatican document on pastoral blessings for same-sex couples and other unmarried couples.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Bishop Kurt E. Burnette of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersey, provided detailed responses on behalf of their respective sees to Fiducia Supplicans (“Supplicating Trust”), which was released Dec. 18 by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The declaration, subtitled “On the pastoral meaning of blessings,” concluded that priests could offer “spontaneous” and “non-liturgical” pastoral blessings upon request to those in same-sex unions or couples in “irregular situations.” At the same time, the text — which was signed by dicastery prefect Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández and secretary Msgr. Armando Matteo and approved by Pope Francis — affirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage. 

The declaration followed up on the pope’s response to dubia, or questions, posed by several cardinals in a letter released in early October.

Fiducia Supplicans” garnered a range of reactions among Catholic clergy and faithful — from praise to confusion to anger — and prompted a Jan. 4 Vatican press release from Cardinal Fernández urging “a full and calm reading” of the text.

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