Tucho “Heal Me with Your Mouth” Fernández shoots from the hip again.
In a rapid-fire, frantic spray of responsa ad dubia, the Office Formerly Known as Holy has spewed forth another bunch of nonsense. Again, the Roman congregation cannot speak the Roman language, so the document named an official “declaration” is in various vernaculars. But the official translation has been released.
As we discussed in our previous analysis of this controversy since the New Dubia, the hitherto formal response on whether the Church can bless “same-sex couples” from Ladaria’s Holy Office was definitively negative, and the reasoning from the document rendered these conclusions:
The Church can only give a blessing to someone with same-sex attraction if and only if:
1. The close bond is confirmed between the Sacraments and the sacramentals within God’s designs for creation
2. The blessing be of an individual person, not a relationship
3. The person manifests the desire to live chastely according to the “plan of God”
When two people are blessed together, the relationship or partnership is blessed along with the persons. This is why it can only be a blessing of one person. The emphasis on the “plan of God” as defined in this document, is specifically the design of God for human sexuality. In the context, it is not a “general will” to be a Christian, but rather to be a Christian in this specific way, as contrasted with self-identifying with the temptation and sin of sodomy. It would seem then, that the CDF is establishing these necessary distinctions which create the parameters of blessings in this area.
Subsequent to this 2021 document, Pope Francis and then Fernández opened the door to the idea that the Church can indeed bless two people who 1.) have same-sex attraction, 2.) are in a sinful relationship, and 3.) do not manifest any desire to live chastely. This further formal response solidifies another instance of Pope Francis abrogating himself.
Analysis of the Text
First, Fernández who had previously condemned “some bishops [who claim to] have a special gift of the Holy Spirit to judge the doctrine of the Holy Father” seems to confirm this same gnosticism in the opening lines:
Since “the Roman Curia is primarily an instrument at the service of the successor of Peter” (Ap. Const. Praedicate Evangelium, II, 1), our work must foster, along with an understanding of the Church’s perennial doctrine, the reception of the Holy Father’s teaching.
So the “perennial doctrine” is one thing mentioned in passing, but we must be concerned with receiving the Holy Father’s doctrine in particular. True to this intention, the document quotes Pope Francis more than any other single source, and the “perennial doctrine of the Church” is obscured.
But to reassure us, the document begins by giving a nod to that Faith:
Therefore, rites and prayers that could create confusion between what constitutes marriage—which is the “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children”—and what contradicts it are inadmissible. This conviction is grounded in the perennial Catholic doctrine of marriage; it is only in this context that sexual relations find their natural, proper, and fully human meaning. The Church’s doctrine on this point remains firm.
Based on these statements, there is no further need for comment from the Office Formerly Known as Holy. And yet, here we go.
The text then re-affirms the same teaching from the 2021 document, but adds quickly this straw man: “One must also avoid the risk of reducing the meaning of blessings to this point of view alone, for it would lead us to expect the same moral conditions for a simple blessing that are called for in the reception of the sacraments.”
This is a straw man because no one anywhere has stated that blessing objects and people require the same things that reception of the Sacraments do. The issue which has been clarified by the 2021 document is that when you bless two people together, you are not just blessing them individually, nor their Christianity generally, but you are blessing that thing that binds them together, i.e. their relationship.
That is the whole issue which Pope Francis himself clarified in 2021. But instead this new document throws sand in the eyes with this ridiculous statement, after which a long and irrelevant discussion on blessings in the Scriptures is taken up, except to summarise it all with a note of kumbaya:
In his mystery of love, through Christ, God communicates to his Church the power to bless. Granted by God to human beings and bestowed by them on their neighbors, the blessing is transformed into inclusion, solidarity, and peacemaking. It is a positive message of comfort, care, and encouragement. The blessing expresses God’s merciful embrace and the Church’s motherhood, which invites the faithful to have the same feelings as God toward their brothers and sisters.
After this, the document shifts back to the redefinition of the question given by the Holy Father in his own responses to the New Dubia: “when one asks for a blessing, one is expressing a petition for God’s assistance, a plea to live better, and confidence in a Father who can help us live better.”
After this set up, the “perennial doctrine of the Church” makes an appearance!
The Church, moreover, must shy away from resting its pastoral praxis on the fixed nature of certain doctrinal or disciplinary schemes, especially when they lead to “a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying” [-Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium]. Thus, when people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it. For, those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection.
Amazing! Did you notice the straw man? Those who ask for blessings should not have “prior moral perfection.” Who on earth has required anyone to have moral perfection to get a blessing? Did the 2021 document say anything about perfection? No. Only the manifest intention to live according to the design of God.
But Tucho is burning the straw men left and right. He then quotes a rite of blessing the elderly and adds a non sequitur:
In this case, the subject of the blessing is the elderly person, for whom and with whom thanks is being given to God for the good he has done and for the benefits received. No one can be prevented from this act of giving thanks, and each person—even if he or she lives in situations that are not ordered to the Creator’s plan—possesses positive elements for which we can praise the Lord.
Contrary to the stated intention of this document, this is by no means a “development” of the 2021 document, but a prima facie contradiction with no attempt to reconcile the two.
I wonder if Tucho would also like to bless a relationship of Mafiosi now that Tucho lives in Italy. The Mafia have a whole lot of positive elements, after all: brotherhood, loyalty, perseverance, family bonds.
Then comes the one inch crack in the door through which Jimmy “Bridge to Hell” Martin can drive a truck:
[P]astoral prudence and wisdom—avoiding all serious forms of scandal and confusion among the faithful—may suggest that the ordained minister join in the prayer of those persons who, although in a union that cannot be compared in any way to a marriage, desire to entrust themselves to the Lord and his mercy, to invoke his help, and to be guided to a greater understanding of his plan of love and of truth.
There you have it folks, here’s the exception to the rule! Take it away, Slim Jim!
And right on q. james Martin starts his twitter storm. Confusion confirmed. pic.twitter.com/yoBH7AZjLT
— Robert Nugent (Decrevi Channel) (@DecreviD2BC) December 18, 2023
So having offered no justification beforehand, Tucho then formally blesses sodomitic relationships:
Within the horizon outlined here appears the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex, the form of which should not be fixed ritually by ecclesial authorities to avoid producing confusion with the blessing proper to the Sacrament of Marriage. In such cases, a blessing may be imparted that not only has an ascending value but also involves the invocation of a blessing that descends from God upon those who—recognizing themselves to be destitute and in need of his help—do not claim a legitimation of their own status, but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that what is blessed, the object of the blessing is the couple. This statement asserts that a relationship of sodomy can be blessed. This asserts that there is such a thing as “couples of the same sex.” This relationship can be blessed, he says, because there’s some positive element in it somewhere (another straw man on fire).
So the man committing adultery with his mistress becomes a “couple in an irregular situation.” Their relationship gets a blessing.
The two men who are committing sodomy become a “same-sex couple.” Their relationship gets a blessing.
And the 2021 document, which appeared then to be definitive? It’s actually not definitive, but this new document is:
Thus, beyond the guidance provided above, no further responses should be expected about possible ways to regulate details or practicalities regarding blessings of this type.
And this, says the document is “following the authoritative teaching of Pope Francis.”
The Loophole They Missed
Interestingly, the document emphasises that there can be no formalisation of this blessing of “same-sex couples” since “such a ritualization would constitute a serious impoverishment because it would subject a gesture of great value in popular piety to excessive control, depriving ministers of freedom and spontaneity in their pastoral accompaniment of people’s lives.”
OK, so that also means that a “same-sex couple” cannot force a faithful priest to give them a blessing, even if the Pope wishes it! Because the Vatican is saying every priest should make it up on the spot. Therefore any faithful priest who is given a situation like this (even if his bishop comes after him), can do whatever his faithful conscience tells him to do, for the sake of these poor souls, and call that his blessing.
How do we Respond?
As Catholics we are bound to give religious submission of mind and will to this document. But this is conditional. No faithful Catholic needs any special training to reject this erroneous document for what it is: a contradiction of the Faith. It is lamentable we are in this situation, and even more lamentable for the poor souls who are struggling with their same-sex temptations, for this document is an act of hatred for them. All the more reason for us as the faithful to support the work of that faithful apostolate, Courage International, and all faithful priests whose burden is to care of all souls with impure temptations.
As for us, we must treat all persons with same-sex attraction with the tenderness of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that they may be truly blessed and converted to the Ark of Salvation.
St. Charles Lwanga, pray for these poor souls!