At end of youth meeting, no Apostolic Benediction from Francis.

I think I understand what he is getting at. However, I don’t think this is the better approach, especially with young people.

Perhaps “refused” isn’t the right word. “Demured”? “Declined”? “Balked”?

It is hard to imagine that anyone would be offended by “A Pope who acts like a Pope”. Popes do certain things. It is expected of them. People are not surprised or, if they are sane, offended by a Pope who, for examples, teaches the perennial teaching of the Church on faith and morals, puts on certain vestments, or gives the Apostolic Benediction at the end of an audience of any kind. The only think that might surprise of offend would be a “A Pope who acts like a non-Pope” or maybe, “A Pope who does not act like a Pope”.

It seems to me that when the Sunday Angelus is recited in St. Peter’s Square, there are lots of non-Catholics. At Wednesday Audiences and other papal events, lots of non-Catholics. So, should there by no Apostolic Benediction?

I think I understand what he was proposing. I can’t bring myself to agree with the choice.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Ivan says:

    What to say?
    Galatians 2,11-14 … and … 3 John 1,6 comes to mind …

  2. rhhenry says:

    I think it could be an OK idea, but in this case it was improperly applied.

    If I were a bishop invited to the local synagogue to discuss Jewish-Catholic relations with particular emphasis on the “controversial” EF Good Friday prayers, I wouldn’t, at the end of said event, launch into a full-on “Sit nomen Domini benedictum”-style blessing. On the other hand, if I were a bishop who had invited the youth of the diocese to my own event, you bet I’d bless them.

    This happens in lay people’s lives not infrequently, as well. When we have friends over for dinner, we still say grace before meals, even if there are non-Catholics or atheists present; we don’t tone down our Catholicism. Similarly, if we are invited to the home of a non-Catholic for dinner, we don’t ignore their non-Catholic prayer before meals, nor to we drown them out with our own Catholic grace; we listen respectfully, then silently add our own grace before meals.

    I guess it’s all about whose “house” you’re in, and these youth were at the Pope’s “house” (event), so the Pope should not have been afraid to act “Pope-like.”

  3. Lurker 59 says:

    Permit me to broaden the issue a bit, to speak to all such instances that I see way too much.

    As part of the Creed, we say that we believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church where Catholic means universal for all people in all places and in all times. We say that we believe in a universal Faith — that Catholicism is the Faith for everyone, not just ‘Catholics’. As the Catechism teaches, this is why the Church has a Missionary Mandate and the Gospel is about bringing people into the Church where they hold fast to the teachings of the apostles and work out their salvation in fear and trembling. Priests, especially, are commissioned to go forth with this Good News, bringing the blessings of Christ to all that they would meet.

    As an ex-Protestant, I would see this often, in person or in writing, where a Catholic, including priests, would not fulfill the Missionary Mandate in one form or another out of supposed “deference”.

    As an ex-Protestant, then and now, I can only see this in one of two way — it is a sign of disbelief in the Creed OR such an individual thinks that their audience is unworthy of the Gospel and thus hides the truth and, if a cleric, God’s blessings from them.

    Either way, a cleric has refused an opportunity to impart God’s blessings.

    Perhaps such people think they are being humble — they are not. People were hungry for God’s blessings and they were refused. God said “Feed my sheep” and sheep were sent away hungry.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    A vacuous gesture employed mindlessly.
    Why was he there? Why were they there? To give and receive his unutterable wisdom?
    If you can’t call down God’s blessing on anyone for fear of offending them hang it up.
    It is nothing less than bizarre, and indicative of far more.

  5. Matthew says:

    Do atheists really get offended if they get a blessing? I find that very hard to believe.

  6. Josephus Corvus says:

    Doesn’t Urbi et Orbi contain the Apostolic Blessing as well? Lot’s of non-Catholics in this here orbi that might be offended….

  7. maternalView says:

    So he denies it to the Catholic youth there? I can’t imagine that the non-Catholics there would be surprised if the Pope gave a blessing. That’s what popes are known for!

  8. Hidden One says:

    This decision suggests to me that perhaps the pope does not understand young people.

  9. james huffaker says:

    It serves NO One to change or dilute who we are to placate those that are in error. At the very least, it is a sin against charity. Are we not culpable for pointing out to others when the path they are taking, is an error. God I wish somebody loved me enough to tell me. Please pray of the Pope

  10. Gab says:

    He seems more interested in being politically correct and socially accepted than in being Christ’s representative on earth.

  11. james huffaker says:

    To add, just to illustrate the point, Mother Church has always taught, There is no salvation, outside the Church. Those that through choice or circumstance, live outside the Church, are at risk of eternal damnation. How uncharitable that this isn’t common knowledge.

  12. WmHesch says:

    Indulgence attached to the Apostolic Blessing aside, what effect does receiving more than one blessing in life actually have?

    Or should the words “descend upon you and remain with you always” read “remain with you until the next time you receive a blessing”? Serious question.

  13. mo7 says:

    Remember not too long before Benedict XVI retired he laid a vestment on the tomb of the last pope to resign? Maybe it’s like that – a sign to us of his future intention to resign.

  14. cpdog says:


  15. cpdog says:


  16. Sportsfan says:

    It seems to me the pope is saying, “It’s OK to be non-Catholic, we won’t bother you about it.”

    Shouldn’t the pope want everyone to be Catholic?

  17. teomatteo says:

    “Communion for everyone! The blessing, no!”

  18. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I just wished I cared enough to have an opinion about whether this Pope cares or doesn’t, blesses atheists or doesn’t, responds to serious questions or doesn’t, says confusing things or doesn’t, abdicates or doesn’t, changes catechisms or doesn’t, appoints more homosexuals/homosexualists or doesn’t.

    Who. Cares.

    This papacy has cured me of my papalotry.

    Only our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ will fix this mess. I will pray, and I will wait. Like Simeon. Maranatha.

  19. Sawyer says:

    The pope has several times washed the feet of non-Christians on Holy Thursday, in a liturgically dubious act, with no apparent concern for offending such people at those times. This pope just does what he wants and makes up a justification for it after the fact. Not to impart a standard blessing sends the signal that he doesn’t think it’s important and that he doesn’t believe it’s efficacious.

  20. Nicholas says:

    I went to a large Catholic high school and many of my friends were atheists. They all wished that the Catholicism at the school be more traditional, especially in the religion classes, simply because it is more interesting.

  21. Kathleen10 says:

    This is a mockery of the Catholic faith, and would be outrageous, if we didn’t understand the source. The Modernists are so focused on bringing the papal office down to the most ordinary, common level, as well as taking any Catholic traditions and gestures and explaining why they are no longer needed, or insulting them altogether, and they are wildly successful. So now the apostolic blessing can not be given lest it offend some nonbeliever. I guess his prayer for anyone is of zero value.
    Why should anyone bother to go see the man? He is just an old man wearing a white bathrobe. Why bother? Go visit your grandfather. Get his blessing, it’s worth something. Has this man not noticed the crowds getting smaller in St. Peter’s? Why does anyone go? Why should anyone go?
    He is an unmitigated disaster, and he is almost single handedly wrecking the church. I would say bishops need to stand up to him, but I can’t even type that and mean it, it’s too far fetched. We know they won’t.
    This is a chastisement, we’re living it.

  22. Dismas says:

    I read this as an act of “doubling down”. Short of a miracle, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, Pope Francis will push harder and more with less concern about the optics involved. Get ready for a rough ride.

  23. Dan says:

    Is the Pope Catholic?

    I remember when that used to be rhetorical.

  24. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    @Dan: I thought the EXACT same question earlier today…

  25. yatzer says:

    Dan, you beat me to what I was about to say. And I really do wonder if the Pope is Catholic.

  26. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Benedict Joseph asked: “Why was he there? Why were they there? To give and receive his unutterable wisdom?”

    Evidently Pope Francis so thought. (Since for some time now, the celebration of the Holy Mass seems to have become more about *the priest* than it is about God, it should surprise no one that this new emphasis has been put into place at other events, like youth meetings.)

  27. Suburbanbanshee says:

    WmHesch – Repetition of blessings is not about God making them “work.” It is about God showing us His love, until we believe it.

    i mean, I guess you could have a Mother Church who only gives you one kiss and one hug per lifetime. But why?

    Are priests so busy? Are laypeople living such blissful lives?

    Sigh. People like going home with a blessing or a gift. It is a little childish, but so what? Humans are.

  28. Blas says:

    Looking at the decoration I’m wondering whose Church is that? The Church of Christ or the church of the bishops?

  29. boredoftheworld says:

    I have definitely thought before posting this. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if my position puts me outside the Church and for the record I don’t know. How much longer are we going to pretend there’s a line in the sand that hasn’t long since been crossed? How much longer are we going to hide behind a mask of respectability and discuss the current situation in measured terms? How much longer are we going to tolerate the man in Rome who pretends to be her bishop?

    By “we” I mean “me”.

    No schismatic thinks he’s the one in schism and no heretic thinks he’s the one asserting heresy. I think it might be me and for the good of everyone else I quite hope it is.

    Just bring back the Borgias and end this Dan Brown farce.

  30. rtjl says:

    I used to know a priest who would not give a blessing at the end of Mass. He used to say “As we feel God’s blessing welling up within us let us go forth knowing we are loved by God”. He also use to begin Mass “in the name of the creator, the redeemer and the sanctifier” Blech, I never went to Mass where I knew he was the celebrant. I always left Mass immediately when he started it “in the name of the creator, the redeemer and the sanctifier”. With respect to his withholding the blessing at Mass, I felt disgust. A priest who refuses to be a priests is as bad as, maybe even worse than, a father who refuses to be a father.

    BTW – this priest is no longer active in (Catholic) ministry. He has left the church and now serves as a minister in an ultra-liberal protestant denomination.

  31. Mallu Jack says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae II says: “[F]or some time now, the celebration of the Holy Mass seems to have become more about *the priest* than it is about God”

    The more the crises worsen, the more I realize how profound each word of papa Ratzinger is. Here’s a taste:
    “The narrative of the golden calf is a warning about any kind of self-initiated and self-seeking worship” – Spirit of the Liturgy

  32. Cafea Fruor says:

    This is ridiculous. If someone non-Catholic would be so offended as to receive a blessing, then they would not have shown up at an event where *gasp!* the Pope was going to be. My sister is a very proud, angry, I-hate-Catholicism atheist and would have been offended, but really, she wouldn’t have been there in the first place, because even just seeing the Pope would have offended her. The youth who came obviously weren’t offended by his presence, so I think the fact that non-Catholics are even there and not walking away pretty much shows that receiving a blessing wouldn’t have been unwelcome.

    We seriously need to stop worrying so much about people’s feelings and treating folks like helpless babies, darn it. Sure, feelings do matter to a degree. Concern for whether people go to heaven or hell, however, is so much more important than worrying about whether they might mildly disgruntled.

  33. deaconjohn1987 says:

    Someone said to me “it’s a sign of pride when you refuse to give a blessing”, like you are better than they are (clericalism?) or I know they don’t need God’s blessing! Wow! I learned my lesson from a parishioner! As God’s instruments, we need to bestow His blessings on all peoples!

  34. Ave Maria says:

    Would might think this man was ashamed of Christ.

  35. Father Z, 2 points.

    1. It is also worth noting that he never says “in order not to offend” and has done impromptu blessings at meetings of priests (where obviously such would not be a concern). So, it could just be an impromptu blessing for many other reasons.

    2. I think you imply an important distinction in objecting to Francis’s actions and decisions.

    2.a. There are those that argue this was gravely scandalous or similar.

    2.b. You seem to argue this is within the realm of the Pope’s reasonable prudential decision but you would have done otherwise. I can respect that although I tend more accepting the Pope’s prudential judgment. Honestly, I am hesitant to judge a prudential decision that could reasonably go either way without knowing more of the situation than seems to be known.

    I wrote up something which I’m critiquing position 2.a. above and avoiding passing positive or negative judgment on the Pope’s prudential choice here.

    [That’s a lot of hard work. I think the Pope was wrong not to give the Blessing.]

  36. jjbulano says:

    I don’t speak as eloquently as many who have responded here, but before my conversion to Catholicism, I attended Mass weekly with my husband and watched and followed everything involving St. John Paul II. I wanted, even longed, for the Priest’s and the Pope’s blessing. It is a large part of what brought me to the Catholic Church. Francis has no idea who in the crowd isn’t a Catholic, but might be moved to give a second look at the Church because of that one, unselfish act of blessing everyone, whether they believe the same as he does nor not. Many hearts could have been touched, many hearts converted by that one act. What a shame to miss that opportunity.

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