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Archbishop Fernández greets Pope Francis in 2019Facebook/Archbishop Fernández

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) –– In another interview, the new head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, Cardinal-designate Victor Fernández, once again refused to rule out the possibility of permitting same-sex “blessings.”

Days before he was due to assume his new role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Fernández spoke to the National Catholic Register’s Ed Pentin about his stance on same-sex “blessings” and modern takes on Church teaching. The archbishop has now started as prefect as of September 11.

Pentin, questioning the soon-to-be cardinal via email, asked about his comments in July regarding same-sex “blessings,” during which Fernández had expressed an openness to such “blessings,” provided they do not cause “confusion.”

READ: Archbishop Fernández hints at openness to same-sex ‘blessings’ if they don’t ‘feed confusion’

Fernández replied:

I was referring to confusing a same-sex union with a marriage. At this point it is clear that the Church only understands marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman who, in their differences, are naturally open to beget life.

Continuing, Fernández explained his appraisal of Church doctrine, arguing that the Church has only gradually come to understand the Gospel.

Asked if he saw “doctrine as an obstacle to being truly compassionate,” Fernández replied that “true doctrine can only be a light, a guide for our steps, a sure path and a joy for the heart.” 

But he added that “it is clear that even the Church does not yet fully grasp the full richness of the Gospel.” 

“In some areas,” said Fernández, “it has taken centuries for the Church to make explicit aspects of doctrine which at other times she did not see so clearly.”

Today the Church condemns torture, slavery and the death penalty, but this did not happen with the same clarity in other centuries. Dogmas were necessary because before them there were issues that were not sufficiently clear. The doctrine does not change, the Gospel will always be the same, Revelation is already settled. 

But there is no doubt that the Church will always be tiny in the midst of such an immensity of truth and beauty and will always need to continue to grow in her understanding.

Such comments are very much in line with those Fernández made in July when asked about the CDF’s March 2021 responsum condemning same-sex “blessings.” He did not provide a clear answer.

Instead, the incoming prefect differentiated between marriage, which he said “in the strict sense is only one thing: that stable union of two beings as different as a man and a woman, who in that difference are capable of engendering new life,” and unions.

Regarding homosexual couples, Fernández suggested that “if a blessing is given in such a way that it does not cause that confusion, it will have to be analyzed and confirmed. As you will see, there is a point where we leave a properly theological discussion and move on to a question that is rather prudential or disciplinary.”

In recent days, the Archbishop of Berlin, Archbishop Heiner Koch, informed his clergy that he would not be taking disciplinary action against them should they “bless” same-sex couples. Despite such actions being directly against the Catholic faith and the Vatican’s directives, Koch wrote that priests could act as they see fit regarding the issuing of such “blessings,” although he himself would not offer the “blessings” until the CDF’s 2021 ban is changed. 

READ: Archbishop of Berlin allows ‘blessings’ of same-sex unions, citing Pope Francis and Abp. Fernandez  

Koch cited Fernández’s July interview as a justification for giving the instruction. 

However, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1986, the CDF issued a document instructing bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons. The document admonishes bishops to ensure that they and any “pastoral program” in the diocese are “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.”

Such an authentic pastoral approach would “assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care,” stated the CDF.

The instruction added that priority should be given to affirming the Church’s condemnation of homosexual behavior and its teaching on chastity: 

But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

The 2021 CDF note, which caused such a storm at the time of its promulgation, explicitly stated that it is “not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”

According to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, those who practice homosexuality receive “in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”