'Welcome' is at the heart of document on blessings, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who act shocked that a priest would bless a gay couple but have no problem with him blessing a crooked businessman are hypocrites, Pope Francis said.

"The most serious sins are those that are disguised with a more 'angelic' appearance. No one is scandalized if I give a blessing to an entrepreneur who perhaps exploits people, which is a very serious sin. Whereas they are scandalized if I give it to a homosexual -- this is hypocrisy," he told the Italian magazine Credere.

The interview was scheduled for publication Feb. 8, but Vatican News reported on some of its content the day before when the magazine issued a press release about the interview.

Pope Francis repeatedly has been asked about "Fiducia Supplicans" ("Supplicating Trust") on "the pastoral meaning of blessings," which was published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith Dec. 18 and was approved by the pope. It allows for priests and other ministers to offer informal, non-liturgical blessings to gay couples and couples in "irregular" marriage situations as long as it is clear they are not blessing the couple's union.

"We all have to respect each other. Everyone," the pope told Credere. "The heart of the document is welcome."

"I don't bless a 'homosexual marriage,' I bless two people who love each other, and I also ask them to pray for me," Pope Francis told Pauline Father Vincenzo Vitale, director of Credere. "Always in the confessional, when these situations come up, homosexual people, remarried people, I always pray and always bless. The blessing should not be denied to anyone. Everyone, everyone, everyone."