If you checked the news today, you likely already heard that the Vatican’s CDF, with Pope Francis’ express approval, authoritatively ruled out the possibility of the Church ever blessing homosexual unions. While any sincere Catholic would have already known full well that such a blessing is obviously radically contrary to the Faith and completely illicit, this is nevertheless certainly newsworthy, as we have lately not been accustomed to such clarity coming from the Vatican. Even secular news sources usually reported fairly accurately the main thrust of this ruling:
God cannot bless sin. The Church cannot bless sin. Christians cannot bless sin. No exceptions. Not now, not ever. Period.
Love the sinner, yes. But hate the sin. No “advanced theology” is needed here.
Heaven’s messages have lately been particularly urgent in imploring prayers from the faithful on behalf of their shepherds, and I have no doubt that this ruling is one of the fruits of those prayers. So, please, keep these prayers up. Rather, redouble them. This ruling, though a Godsend indeed, may even be the event that spurs on the prophesied formal schism — as I think we all know full well that the German Bishop’s Conference will not tolerate it — as well as the event that spurs on the formal persecution, as I think we all know equally well that the worldly powers that be will not much longer allow any dissent from their own sexual-morality-overthrowing anti-dogmas. The handwriting is on the wall.
[Update: minutes after publishing this post, I saw that the head of the German Bishop’s Conference has said he is “not happy”]
But it is equally essential that we not allow this CDF Document to be spun, by the wolves within the Church, in such a way as to imply that its prohibitions are less restrictive than they, in fact, are. These wolves are already in overdrive seeking to enact this spin. AP News quoted the powerful Catholic nun, Sr. Simone Campbell — who most recently made headlines for praising Joe Biden’s pro-abortion stance as “developed” — as saying she was “relived [sic] the Vatican statement wasn’t worse… you could [still] have a ritual where the individuals get blessed to be their committed selves.” (Whatever that means.) Papal biographer and de-facto Pope Francis spokesman, Austen Ivereigh, is claiming “this doesn’t make [same sex unions] bad or wrong per se.” America Magazine, which I criticized strongly a few posts ago, complains that this ruling “…’was not discussed’ in the monthly plenary meeting of [the CDF],” before asserting that when the ruling finally moved “in a positive direction,” it spoke about welcoming with respect same-sex attracted persons… as if it was not a “positive” thing for the CDF to reiterate perennial, soul-saving Church Teaching. Fr. James Martin is trying to deflect attention back to Pope Francis’ (deeply erroneous) personal opinion that we should have same-sex civil unions:
[Update 2 (3/16/2021). The popular Jesuit priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, has just written,“My guess is that [Pope Francis] was given the document right before he left for Iraq and deferred to the congregation rather than subject the document to a close personal review.” This “guess” is impossible, because although we only learned of the Document yesterday, it was nevertheless signed and promulgated on February 22nd; long before Pope Francis’ Iraq trip. As we can see, this “spin” I am cautioning against is already reaching an absurd degree, as the biggest voices in the “Catholic left” are trying to pretend that Pope Francis doesn’t even agree with the very Magisterial document he just signed off on. Bear in mind that this document is a whopping 2 pages long; supposing — for any reason — that Pope Francis “didn’t carefully read it” is ridiculous.]
The truth is that, while the focus of this document is indeed the question of what the Church can (or cannot, rather) bless in the context of sacramentals, its teachings are anything but restricted to this domain; it’s teachings also rule out any sort of same-sex “civil union” or any other endorsement of homosexuality.
While the first several paragraphs of the document offer catechesis on the nature of sacramentals, the teachings contained thereafter are not presented as being restricted to describing the boundaries of sacramentals alone. The following paragraph of the ruling is the key to understanding the broader implications of this document, so I present it in full (with emphasis added):
The answer to the proposed dubium does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching. Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God.
The CDF here makes it explicit that it is not merely condemning the liturgical, sacramental blessing of a homosexual union. Rather, “any form of blessing,” whatsoever, of a homosexual union as such, is condemned, because it would constitute an “approval” and an “encouragement” of something contrary to the “revealed plans of God.”
A “blessing,” in the broadest sense — which is the intended sense here, by virtue of the phrase “any form” — is simply any act of praise. Whatever would “praise” a sinful or disordered situation, is utterly ruled out by basic Christian common sense… and by this CDF ruling. Praising sin or disorder does not become okay merely because it is done outside of a liturgical context.
If, however, one insists upon interpreting “blessing” here (despite the qualifier “any form”) as being restricted to the context of sacramentals, this still makes no difference. For this paragraph does not say that such a blessing would merely fail to remain in keeping with the proper norms governing Sacramentals. Rather, it says that such a blessing would do something objectively wrong –– something, in other words, wrong in every single situation: sacramental or otherwise, liturgical or otherwise, from clergy or from laity, from the Church or from the secular world — namely, it would approve that which is contrary to God’s Law. No one may ever do that.
I hope and pray that this will encourage a moment of repentance for those Catholics who jumped on the bandwagon to agree with Pope Francis’ personal opinion that we should have same-sex civil unions, since this CDF ruling — which is no mere personal opinion, but rather participates in the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium, and which bears Pope Francis’ explicit approval — flatly contradicts such a stance.
I hope this will also serve as a general reminder that personal opinions of Popes cannot overturn Magisterium. Last October, when it came to light that Pope Francis personally endorsed same-sex civil unions, Catholics should have known better than to jump on board. They should have known that the CDF already Magisterially ruled, in 2003, that “all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions” and that “laws in favour of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason” and that “In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized … clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.” Instead, so many chose to reject the True Magisterium and jump on board with a fashionable opinion that the Pope personally held. Similarly, so many are pretending that Pope Francis’ personally preferred interpretation of one footnote of one of his apostolic exhortations (Amoris Laetitia) has the right to overturn a clear and direct Magisterial teaching actually within another apostolic exhortation (Familiaris Consortio paragraph 84) . Frankly, these situations are not all that confusing. How to side with the True Magisterium in these cases is not that perplexing. One simply needs to want it.
Perhaps this CDF document bearing express Papal approval was even Pope Francis’ way of repenting of his error and seeking to make amends. I do not believe it was any accident that this ruling was promulgated on the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. Let us continue to trust in the promise that Christ gave to Peter. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail. Though we can count on more bumps along the way, we can rest assured that God will not disappoint.
Let us not forget that he is our Pope. We must continue to love him and pray for him. Prayers are powerful, dear brethren in Christ.
Pray, pray, pray.