top of page
  • Writer's pictureDove

Fiducia Supplicans - Creating Confusion Not Trust

Updated: Feb 3

The declaration Fiducia Supplicans released by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 2023 and endorsed by Pope Francis stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy that shows no sign of settling down.

The secular media widely celebrated the document as the Pope's approval of blessings for same-sex couples and another step by the Church to welcome LGBTQ+ Catholics, a hallmark of Pope Francis' papacy.

Section I holds that marriage is an "exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman" and maintains that nothing changes that teaching.

Section II develops a "broader understanding of blessings" while Section III outlines the possibility of blessing couples in "irregular" and same-sex unions.

Predictably, the document created an outcry from traditional Catholics including bishops around the world, with African bishops rejecting it en masse as homosexuality remains a scandal in large parts of the continent.

University of Notre Dame theologian Ulrich Lehner expressed concern the document would 'sow division' in the church.

"The Vatican's statement is, in my view, the most unfortunate public announcement in decades," he said in a statement. "Moreover, some bishops will use it as a pretext to do what the document expressly forbids, especially since the Vatican has not stopped them before. It is - and I hate to say it - an invitation to schism."

Intentional Misinterpretation?

As if on cue, the day after the Pope's announcement, Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin, a longtime advocate of changing Church teaching on homosexuality was "making history" by blessing a same-sex couple in NYC with reporters invited from the New York Times.

The story ran complete with photographs less than 36 hours after Fiducia Supplicans was published, making it clear he understood the document as permission by Pope Francis to bless same-sex couples.

Fr. Martin tweeted; "My take on the historic Vatican declaration on same-sex blessings, "As a priest I look forward to blessing same-sex couples, sharing with them the graces that God desires for everyone, something I've waited years to do."

Evading Heresy, Embracing Ambiguity

Something Pope Francis, Fiducia Supplicans author Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez and Fr. Martin all appear to have in common is the ability to 'Go right up to the line, without crossing it'.

In essence, the document's genius lies in a loophole designed to evade Church teaching that sin cannot be blessed.

By 'broadening' the concept of 'blessings' to include things that that might contradict the law or spirit of the Gospel, Fiducia Supplicans creates a third category of blessing that is not Liturgical or Sacramental, but Pastoral. Pastoral blessings are to be spontaneous and non-scripted, therefore by their evolving nature they are said to be non-liturgical.

A couple can request a blessing and the objective state of their relationship will not be subject to scrutiny, as long as the blessing does not occur in the context of a ceremony.

The ambiguity of these blessings lies in moving away from the objective moral status of a relationship to a subjective evaluation - the couple's understanding of what is being blessed, which may include a same-sex civil union or any other 'irregular' relationships outside of marriage.

The priest giving the blessing can say he is doing it without sanctioning anything, while the couple may understand it as a blessing of their relationship.

These blessings are innovative in that they do not compromise Church doctrine per se, because they are separated from ritual and because;

No one knows exactly what is being blessed.

While Fiducia Supplicans is being touted as a blessing on the people involved in a same-sex union, not a blessing on the union itself, nothing will change the public meaning of 'blessing' a couple who present themselves together. In the court of public opinion, blessing a same-sex- couple implies approval.

Fiducia Supplicans invents a new class of blessings that do not require conversion;

it is a crafty gimmick that pretends we can be saved by overlooking sin.

25 views0 comments


bottom of page