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Cardinal Joseph Zen preaches a sermon during a mass at the Holy Cross Church on May 24, 2022 in Hong Kong.Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

HONG KONG (LifeSiteNews) — Joseph Cardinal Zen has joined his voice to those opposing Fiducia Supplicans, calling for the text’s author, Cardinal Victor Fernández, to resign or be dismissed.

Writing on his personal website January 21, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong issued his response to Fiducia Supplicans and its subsequent January 4 press release, both of which were authored by Cardinal Fernández, the new prefect of the Congregation (Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“The Statement repeatedly emphasizes the need to avoid confusion, but the blessings encouraged by the Statement do in fact create confusion,” wrote Zen.

READ: Pope Francis publishes norms for clergy to ‘bless’ homosexual couples

The 92-year-old cardinal expressed particular outrage over Fernández’s comments that “sexual behavior in same-sex relationships has its goodness, that it can ‘progress’ and ‘grow’.” Zen pointed out the similarities between this and Pope Francis’ answer to the five cardinals’ dubia; the pontiff’s reply favorably compared marriage to homosexual “sexual love.”

“This is an absolute subjective error. According to objective truth, that behavior is a grave sin and can never be good,” wrote Zen. “If the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is […] committing a heresy by claiming a serious sin as ‘good,’ then shouldn’t the Prefect resign or be dismissed?”

Contradictory texts from Cdl. Fernández?

Zen began his critique by highlighting unresolved problems in the local translations of Fiducia Supplicans, noting that there is no official Chinese version of the text and that the translation made locally contains errors regarding those who are to be blessed.

But in addition to such more localized concerns, Zen wrote that Fiducia Supplicans “leaves much to be desired.”

He called into question the logic of Fernández’s January 4 press release defending Fiducia Supplicans, highlighting what he demonstrated as a contradiction in its text and argumentation. So contradictory was that January 4 text, he said, that it amounted to saying that Fiducia Supplicans “is not valid for the time being”:

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued another ‘statement’ on January 4 of this year, which, on the one hand, strongly denies that the ‘statement’ of December 18 is contrary to ecclesiastical reasoning, and on the other hand, recognizes that the bishops and episcopal conferences have reason to have certain doubts about it, and that it seems to them that they need a longer period of time to study it, and that they cannot permit priests to carry out the statement at the present time, which is something that the Holy See understands. 

This is tantamount to saying that the Declaration of December 18 is not valid for the time being.

The cardinal also raised issues with the proposed instances during which blessings could be given, as presented by Fiducia Supplicans. One example given by the text was that couples might ask for a blessing during a pilgrimage, or that a pilgrimage group itself might be blessed.

Zen wrote about this saying that “it is neither possible nor necessary for a priest to clarify whether or not a pilgrimage group has couples living in ‘abnormal’ sexual relationships. 

Authentic ‘pastoral’ attitude

He criticized Fernández’s text for not showing how to act in a manner of true “pastoral love,” since such would involve calling upon homosexual couples to abandon a sinful lifestyle. Zen highlighted that although FS mentioned homosexual couples “who ask for a blessing ‘may’ also ask for the grace and strength of God to enable them to do God’s will fully,” the document adds that the priest “is not supposed to examine them to see if they have such an intention.”

READ: FULL LIST: Where do bishops stand on blessings for homosexual couples?

“So how can a priest give a blessing if he or she is not sure that they have such an intention, or if there is reason to suspect that they do not have such an intention at all?,” queried Zen. 

He argued against Fiducia Supplicans’ claim that blessings to homosexual couples are given “out of pastoral love,” noting that Sacred Scripture teaches “that pastors are to protect the … sheep, heal the wounded, and lead back those who have gone astray.” 

The ‘statement’ seems to say that they came as a ‘pair’ and went back as a’pair’ after the blessing; doesn’t that mean that they can, at least for the time being, continue to live in the ‘wrong,’ i.e., sinful, way?

If priests were to follow the command of the Scriptures, wrote Zen, then they should follow the “primary concern” of Christ which was “to free people from their sins.”

Confusion permitted by Holy See

Having highlighted numerous issues of concern in Fernández’s text, Zen wrote that the document fosters “confusion” and   that such confusion was also being allowed to spread by Vatican authorities. 

“The secular media will of course intentionally add to the confusion, but why doesn’t the Holy See discourage pro-LGBTQ pastors in the Church such as Fr. James Martin, S.J., or Sr. Jeannine Gramick from intentionally creating confusion or simply failing to follow some of the rules instructed in the Statement, as Germany and certain other dioceses have done?” asked Zen. 

“Is it consistent with pastoral principles to create confusion on this important issue?”

He additionally questioned the CDF’s wisdom or cultural sensibilities, saying that in many of the “‘fringe areas’ often referred to by the Pope, the culture is strongly opposed to condoning or [is] even legally penalizing same-sex relationships. Is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith really unaware of this?”

In contrast to Zen’s stance, the current bishop of Hong Kong – Cardinal Stephen Chow – supported Fiducia Supplicans, saying the text has at its heart “a call for clergy to impart pastoral blessings to those who are in same-sex or irregular relationships, but are asking for the mercy of the Father.”