Friday, December 22, 2023

Reactions to Fiducia Supplicans

I'll try to keep this up to date: not with the reaction of every bishop in the world, but groups of bishops and other significant groups.

The text of the Declaration Fiducia supplicans

Bishops of Kazakstan

'To bless couples in an irregular situation and same-sex couples is a serious abuse of the most Holy Name of God, since this name is invoked upon an objectively sinful union of adultery or of homosexual activity.'

Bishops of Ukraine

'We see the danger in ambiguous wording that causes divergent interpretations among the faithful. What we missed in the document is that the Gospel calls sinners to conversion, and without a call to leave the sinful life of homosexual couples, the blessing may look like an approval. '

Bishops of Zambia

'In order to avoid any pastoral confusion and ambiguity as well as not to break the law of our country which forbids same sex unions and activities, and while listenig to our cultural heritage which does not accept same sex relationships, the Conference guides that the Declaration from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith of December 18th 2023 concerning the blessing of same-sex couples be taken as for further reflection and not for implementation in Zambia.'

Bishops of Malawi

' avoid creatuig confusion among the faithful we direct that for pastoral reasons, blessings of any kind for same-sex unions of any kind, are not permitted in Malawi.'

Bishops of Nigeria

' In conclusion, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria assures the entire People of God that the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage remains the same. There is, therefore, no possibility in the Church of blessing same-sex unions and activities. That would go against God’s law, the teachings of the Church, the laws of our nation and the cultural sensibilities of our people. The CBCN thanks all the Priests for their accompaniment of married couples, asking them to continue in all they do to sustain the sacrament of holy matrimony and never to do anything that would detract from the sacredness of this sacrament.'

Cardinal Ambongo of Congo, President of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa & Madagascar (SECAM)

'The ambiguity of this declaration—which lends itself to many interpretations & manipulations—is causing much perplexity among the faithful & I believe that...we need to speak out clearly on this issue in order to give clear guidance to our Christians.'

In respect of the law of the land, our culture and for moral reasons we instruct pastors to desist from actions that may be deemed as the blessing of same sex unions bringing confusion and even scandal to our people.

'We wish to reiterate that priests cannot bless same-sex unions or marriages.'

Archbishop Franz Lackner, Chairman of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference

He expressed 'joy' at the document. 'I believe that the Church recognizes that a relationship between two people of the same sex is not entirely without truth: there is love, there is fidelity, there is also need shared and lived in fidelity. This should also be acknowledged.'

'Basically, you can no longer say no.' (machine translation)

Bishops' Conference of the United States (this is the entire statement)

'The Declaration issued today by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) articulated a distinction between liturgical (sacramental) blessings, and pastoral blessings, which may be given to persons who desire God’s loving grace in their lives. The Church’s teaching on marriage has not changed, and this declaration affirms that, while also making an effort to accompany people through the imparting of pastoral blessings because each of us needs God’s healing love and mercy in our lives.'

Bishops' Conference of Ghana

'The blessing which the Declaration says could be givien to everyone refers to prayers that people may request for. [sic] For those in a state of sin, the prayers are meant to lead them to conversion. Therefore, the prayers for persons in same-sex relationships are not intended to legitimise their way of of life, but to lead them on the path of conversion (cf. paras 38, 42-45).
    'In conclusion, we wish to reiterate that priests cannot bless same-sex unions or marriages.'

Bishops' Conference of Rwanda

'The Catholic Bishops' Conference in Rwanda informs priests, priests, all Christians and devout people that the Church's teaching on Christian marriage has not changed. As a result, the Church cannot bless same-sex marriage because it would be contrary to God's law and culture.
    'We call on priests, priests and other Christians to join us in our mission to be close and accompany our young people and married couples who continue to appreciate the sacraments of marriage and its sacred sovereignty.' (machine translation: impressed Word includes Kinyarwanda...)

Bishops' Conference of Kenya

'This declaration does not in any way approve of ‘Same-sex Marriages’ nor try to give a back-door recognition of such a union. It does not seek an alternative ‘union blessing’ to substitute a Sacramental marriage.' 

'The Church does not withhold a blessing to an individual who seeks it with an attitude of truth and faith. This blessing can be given even to non-Catholics, or non-Christians who honestly wish to receive God's blessing.' (No link from report to the full statement.)

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales

'It is to remain clear that such moments of prayer and blessing are quite different from a blessing of the union or partnership itself and are a moment of turning to God for his mercy and for his grace to lead a life of increasing faithful love and service in obedience to the Lord.'

(A longer 'note' is sent to priests but is not to be shared publicly.)

Bishops of the Province of Rennes, France
'it is right, as the Declaration emphasizes, not to contribute to creating "confusion" (n. 4, 5, 30, 31, 39) or "scandal" (n. 30, 39). For this reason, it is appropriate to bless spontaneously, individually, each of the two people who form a couple, regardless of their sexual orientation, who ask for God's blessing with humility and in the desire to conform more and more to his holy will.' (Emphasis original. Machine translation)

'If there is a request to attend or do a blessing or ceremony either inside or outside a church it can only be done with my prior written permission. Disregard for this prescription will result in canonical penalties.'


To keep these together, reactions from Germany.

'I very much welcome this document and am grateful for the pastoral perspective it adopts. In Fiducia supplicans it is explained that, in principle, it is possible and permissible for the ordained pastor to respond to the wishes of couples who ask for a blessing for their partnership, even if they do not live in all respects according to the norms of the Church. This means that couples who do not have the opportunity to have a church wedding due to a divorce, for example, and same-sex couples can be given a blessing.' (machine translation)

'It turns out that theological honesty and a sense of faith are important milestones on the way to changing the Church. A mere bondage to prohibition is not Catholic.'
'To be Catholic in these times means to expect change.' (machine translation)

Three early reactions from individual bishops.

Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Winona-Rochester, USA

'I believe that the declaration is very much congruent with the pastoral instincts of Pope Francis, who always wants to remind those who are living the Christian life in a less than perfect way that they are, nevertheless, loved and cherished by God. To all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, the Church should never fail to be a source of welcome, compassion, and blessing.'

Archbishop O'Toole of Cardiff, Wales

'I invite all in the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the Diocese of Menevia to read and reflect on Fiducia supplicans carefully, so that they are aware of the parameters in which clergy may impart a blessing to others who seek it from them.'

'It’s surprising that (they did not) proceed in a synodal manner, in line with the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council. We would have been spared the dissenting reactions of episcopal conferences that we are witnessing, for example.'
Implementation will be 'chaotic'.

Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen Dsgupan, The Philipines

'Therefore, when a Catholic priest prays a blessing of mercy on a couple in an irregular situation, who “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” (no. 30), he is asking God to have pity on both of them and to give them the grace of conversion so that they can regularize their relationships.
    'This blessing of mercy is not and cannot be a blessing of sanctification since we cannot ask God to bless something that, as Fidueia Supplicans explains, is not “conformed to God’s will, as expressed in the teachings of the Church” (no. 9). Priests who are invited to bless couples in irregular situations should choose the appropriate words to reveal this intent of the Church.'


Other reactions of interest.

'The Vatican's new declaration "Fiducia supplicans" is major step forward in the church's ministry to LGBTQ people and recognizes the deep desire in many Catholic same-sex couples for God's presence in their loving relationships.'

'We note the noble pastoral desire to assist people to move forward by renewal of life and the call to conversion, building on all aspects of natural good will and virtue. Nevertheless, we see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval. Thus, it would inevitably lead to scandal – to the individuals concerned – to those involved directly or indirectly in the blessing – or to the minister himself. Furthermore, we fear that the practice of these blessings would confuse the faithful over the actual theology of marriage and human sexuality. Indeed, from the comments in the media over the past few days, and from concerns passed on to us by the faithful, we can already see such misunderstandings. We believe that genuine charity always follows true doctrine and that such blessings would work against the legitimate care a priest owes is flock. With honest parresia and from our own experience as pastors we conclude that such blessings are pastorally and practically inadmissable.'

'Marian clergy ... are prohibited from blessing irregular relationships, unions, or same-sex couples in the United States and Argentina, or while travelling abroad. ... We see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval of the irregular relationship, leading to the scandal of the faithful. Such blessings (liturgical or spontaneous) would work against the legitimate care a priest or deacon owes his flock.'

A few more African countries are included on this website but there are no links.

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  1. Have the UK bishops not responded? If not, why not? Surely ALL Catholics must abhor sexual relations between same sex couples. We can still love them provided they are not active.

    1. The Bishops of England and Wales are in the process of drafting their response. It will be published asap.

  2. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church jus outright states that they are not Latin rite and this abomination doesn’t apply to them—lucky them

    Barron—two n’s😊