Irish Catholic bishop distances himself from Vatican’s ban on same-sex blessings
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ACHONRY, Ireland, April 9, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The youngest Catholic bishop in Ireland has become the latest to join a number of church leaders who have openly distanced themselves from the Vatican’s ban on blessing homosexual couples.
Bishop Paul Dempsey of Achonry called the ban a “hurtful response from the Church to people with same sex orientation” in a March 26 reflection that appeared on the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference website.
Dempsey, who was appointed Bishop of Achonry in January 2020 by Pope Francis, expressed regret at the language used by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in teaching about why the Church cannot bless such unions.
The CDF announced on March 15 that the Church cannot bless homosexual relationships since God “does not and cannot bless sin.” A question to the CDF about whether or not the Church has the “power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex” was answered in the “negative” by the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer. The congregation’s statement was assented to by Pope Francis. The Congregation 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.”
Bishop Dempsey called the language used a “problem.”
“The deeper problem arises in the sphere of language, at best it is experienced as cold and distant, at worst hurtful and offensive,” he said.
“The statement that the Church ‘cannot bless sin’ is seen as targeting or treating same sex couples in a way that others are not targeted or treated in the Church. Many have found this deeply offensive. As a result some feel they are not welcome and have no place in the Catholic Church. There is a great sadness in this as no one should feel that they are not welcome in the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Further to this, so many people in same sex relationships have enriched the life of the Church and continue to do so in parishes across the world,” he added.
Contrary to Dempsey’s assertions, the Church welcomes all sinners no matter who they are or what they have done. The Church, however, does not welcome sin and makes a careful distinction between sin and sinner. While rapists, pedophiles, and adulterers are welcome to receive God’s love and mercy in the Church through the sacraments, the Church uses strong language to condemn these sins and warns the people who do such things of the eternal punishment of hell that awaits them if they do not repent and believe in the Gospel. The Church speaks out of love when she uses strong language in warning men and women about the spiritual and even biological dangers of engaging in homosexual behavior.
Bishop Dempsey’s reflection comes in the wake of the country’s former president Mary McAleese demanding that Ireland’s Catholic bishops challenge the CDF’s directive for its language that she called “gratuitously cruel in the extreme.”
Dempsey joins German Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg (who is also head of the German Bishops’ Conference), Austrian Bishop Hermann Glettler, Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny, Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, and many others in voicing dissent from the ban on blessings for homosexual couples.
Cardinal Raymond Burke commented last month that defiance to the ban shows that an “aggressive homosexual agenda” is dominating those who have been elevated as shepherds.
“The blowback is simply an expression of a worldliness, a mundanity, which has entered into the Church by which the aggressive homosexual agenda is now dominating even in certain ecclesial circles and even among certain bishops,” the Cardinal, who is the former head of the Vatican's highest court and one of the world’s foremost canon lawyers, told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo in an March 25 interview.
Burke went on to say that bishops who openly defy the decree should voluntarily “renounce” their office.
“The bishop, if he's pained by what's declared by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, then he must examine himself with regard to his own coherence with the Catholic faith. And, if he is not holding to the Catholic faith, then he should renounce his office. He has to be relieved of his office as diocesan bishop, because this is simply unacceptable. It can’t be,” Burke said.