VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) –– Speaking to LifeSiteNews, Victor Cardinal Fernández expressed his openness to same-sex blessings, saying that blessings are a sign of “pastoral work” for people “in every situation.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews on the day he was made a cardinal, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández gave his thoughts on the matter of blessings for same-sex individuals.
LifeSiteNews asked the new prefect of the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) whether it is “always wrong to give a blessing to homosexuality, to homosexual couples or not.”
Since being announced as the new CDF prefect on July 4, Fernández has given a number of interviews, and this question has been repeatedly raised. He has consistently replied with confusing phraseology, notably avoiding a straightforward pronunciation of the Catholic teaching condemning same-sex blessings.
The cardinal at first downplayed the possibility of same-sex blessings, if such an instance would cause confusion with marriage. But he continued by saying that a “blessing is not a sacrament” and should not have the same “conditions” as a sacrament would.
In light of this, Fernández stated that a blessing is a “sign of pastoral work” which could be given to “every people in every situation.”
NEW: I asked Cdl Fernández at #Vatican about his openness to same-sex #blessings.
Fernández: If a blessing is not confused with marriage it can be given “to every people in every situation.”
Added we mustn’t set “same conditions for a simple blessing that we ask for a sacrament” pic.twitter.com/MKteDYAmel
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) October 19, 2023
Fernández’s full response to LifeSiteNews is as follows:
What the Church said is that the homosexual union is not blessed, because it [the Church] has the clear definition of marriage which is a union between a male and female open to new life.
Only that is called matrimony – marriage, only that reality is called that way.
So the blessing that could confuse and not make clear about this reality is not good for the Church.
But perhaps also [they] need blessings, not only one isolated person, but two persons who are asking for a blessing because they want to be faithful to God, they want to be better, they want to grow in their Christian life.
The blessing is not a sacrament. And we mustn’t ask the same conditions [for] a simple blessing that we ask for a sacrament.
Blessing is a sign of the “opera pastorale” [pastoral work], to every people in every situation, and we [need to] know nothing [about] the people with how is his Christian life, the morals and other things [in order] to give the blessing.
His answer generates confusion, and appears contradictory in many ways. For while he begins by suggesting that a blessing which causes “confusion” with marriage is “not good for the Church,” he then continued by arguing in favor of blessings for “every situation.”
Notably, while the new CDF prefect described a same-sex blessing that could be confused with marriage as “not good for the Church,” he did not in fact rule it out as impossible. Instead, he explicitly defended a universal approach to handing out blessings.
Cdl. Fernández and the era of interview confusion
Since his arrival to the Vatican over the summer, Cardinal Fernández has made waves for his statements on matters of Catholic doctrine. His role as the ghostwriter of Amoris Laetitia has meant that such statements are not without precedent.
Amoris Laetitia’s now infamous Chapter 8 opened the door to allowing the divorced and “remarried” access to receive Holy Communion, and Francis soon responded to questions by saying there is “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia except the one provided by the bishops of Buenos Aires allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried.
Fernández is believed to have been chiefly responsible for the lines from the apostolic exhortation, and more recently Francis affirmed this argument of Amoris Laetitia’s by signing a document Fernández wrote in response to Cardinal Dominik Duka.
“Amoris laetitia opens the possibility of access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist when, in a particular case, ‘there are limitations that mitigate responsibility and guilt,’” the Pope and his fellow Argentine wrote.
As regards Fernández’s openness to same-sex blessings, the cardinal has been consistent. In July he argued 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.”
This he repeated to the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin in September, arguing that the Church’s understanding of doctrine is developing over time. While Fernández stated that “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,” it appeared that he was arguing that this could change in time.
“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.”
“The Church,” he added later, “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.”
Catholic teaching on same-sex blessings
However, under the former CDF prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., the Vatican ruled in the negative in March 2021 as to whether the Catholic Church has the “power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex.”
The CDF 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.”
Cardinal Ladaria added that a blessing to “individual persons with homosexual inclinations” who displayed the “will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching,” was acceptable – thus further ruling out any blessings of couples.
Furthermore, the CDF declared “illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such,” i.e., as unions.
Meanwhile, under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s tenure, in 1986 the CDF released its document “On the pastoral care of homosexual persons,” which stated that a “truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”