VATICAN CITY, March 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, has signaled a way around the recent Vatican document banning the blessing of same-sex unions. He pointed to the difference in sacramental nature of various unions, and hinted at Church favor towards same-sex civil unions.
Farrell made his remarks towards the end of a press conference yesterday, marking the opening of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, in response to a question posed about the Vatican’s recent document which re-iterated the Church’s teaching that the homosexual couples cannot be blessed.
On Monday, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) responded in the negative to a question about whether the Church had “the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex.”
While being welcomed by clergy in good standing with the Church, notably by Gerhard Cardinal Müller, the former prefect of the CDF, a number of bishops and hundreds of priests have responded angrily, expressing their “disappointment” at the document. Many clergy declared that they would ignore the ruling and “continue to bless same-sex couples.”
With this in mind, German journalist Roland Juchem questioned Farrell about the “disappointment” seen in “parts of the world,” and if concerns about the Vatican’s “competence” about “matters of partnership, family and sexuality” would affect the year of Amoris Laetitia.
In answering Juchem’s question, Farrell appeared to confirm the CDF’s teaching, while at the same time hinting at Church approval for civil unions, provided they were not deemed to be sacramental in their nature.
“The pastoral life of the Church is open to all people. It is essential and very important that we always open our arms to receive and to accompany all people in their different stages of life and in their different life situations,” he began.
“Sometimes we fail to understand also a distinction that must be made, and that is that when the Church speaks about marriage it speaks about sacramental marriage, it doesn’t speak about civil unions. It doesn’t speak about other forms of marriage,” Farrell said. “It speaks to the issue of sacramental marriage, and Amoris Laetitia speaks to that sacramental marriage.”
Catholic commentator Deacon Nick Donnelly from the U.K. noted in comments to LifeSiteNews that despite Farrell’s declaration, the Church has already spoken on civil unions: “Just 18 years ago the CDF declared that placing homosexual unions on the same level as marriage would not only approve of ‘deviant behaviour’ but also obscure basic values of humanity.’”
Farrell, raised to the cardinalate by Pope Francis in November 2016, hinted at a way to essentially circumnavigate the CDF’s prohibition on blessing same-sex couples by emphasising the “distinction” between “sacramental marriage” and non-sacramental marriage. A blessing, since it is a sacramental, is related only to the sacrament of marriage, he stated.
Yet, that “does not mean that those who are only married in the Church receive the benefits of the pastoral care of the Church,” he added.
While affirming that a blessing was reserved for a sacramental marriage, in his comments Farrell admitted the possibility of “civil marriage,” “civil unions,” or “other forms of marriage,” saying that people in such unions were still to receive the accompaniment of the Church.
“There are many different pastoral situations in the world today … where people cannot have full participation in the life of the Church, but that does not mean that they are not to be accompanied by us, and by the people of parishes. We accompany all people.”
The cardinal did not expand on what such accompanying would look like, or what aspects of Catholic life would be prohibited to those who did not have full participation in it. In referring to the divorced and “remarried,” he re-iterated his point that the Church would accompany such people merely with the “hope that one day they will live totally in accordance with the Church’s teaching.”
“It can be difficult to understand, but I insist and would very much like to clearly understand that we are open to accompanying all people,” Farrell continued.
The intended interpretation of the CDF’s document?
Vatican journalist Diane Montagna commented, “In his comments, American Cardinal Kevin Farrell appeared to walk the tightrope between the CDF’s recent document saying ‘no’ to blessing same-sex unions, and #PopeFrancis’s October interview advocating such civil unions.”
In the now infamous interview, the Pope noted the “incongruity” of speaking of “homosexual marriage,” and so called for civil unions instead. “But what we have to have is a law of civil union [ley de convicencia civil], so they have the right to be legally covered,” Francis declared.
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” he said. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
Remarks attributed to Pope Francis (and, not denied by the Vatican) in support of homosexual civil unions have caused grave scandal to the faithful.
Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify these heterodox and scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions, and which will be delivered both to the Vatican and to the Papal Nuncio of the United States (the Pope's official representative in the U.S.).
As the last guarantor of the Faith, the Pope should clarify and rectify these remarks, which go against the perennial teaching of the Church, even including the teaching of his living predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
"What we have to create is a law of civil coexistence [meaning civil union law, for homosexuals]...," Pope Francis is reported to have remarked, in what is arguably his clearest statement of public support for a practice morally prohibited by official Catholic Church teaching.
In fact, the Church has been crystal clear in Her opposition to homosexual unions.
Just in 2003, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons' and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (now, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), which concludes with the following:
"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."
It could not be more clear: the Church is calling people to repentance, not to be left to indulge in grave sin.
Since becoming public, several senior prelates as well as other notable Catholic figures have voiced their opposition to these remarks attributed to the Pontiff.
Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: "It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."
Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented: "Where there is tension between the plain and obvious Word of God and the infallible interpretation on the one hand, and private expressions of opinion even by the highest church authorities on the other, the principle always applies: in dubio pro DEO [When in doubt, be in favor of God]."
And, Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, without directly quoting Pope Francis, shared on Facebook the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,' published by the CDF in 1986, with the statement: "Holy Father, respectfully and humbly, I beg to differ... if that is indeed what you said. In any case, please clarify and rectify your statement, especially in view of the official teaching of our Lord through the magisterium of His Church."
But, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening, with no clarification forthcoming.
We must, therefore, ask the Pope for clarification in this serious matter.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify remarks attributed to him in support of homosexual civil unions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Cdl. Burke: Pope’s homosexual civil union remarks ‘contrary’ to Scripture, Tradition' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/cardinal-burke-on-popes-homosexual-civil-union-remarks-contrary-to-the-teaching-of-sacred-scripture-and-sacred-tradition
'Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/cdl.mueller-popes-words-on-gay-civil-unions-purely-private-expression-of-opinion-which-every-catholic-can-and-should-freely-contradict
'Archbishop Vigano, Bishops Tobin and Strickland respond to Pope’s approval of homosexual civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/archbishop-vigano-and-bishops-tobin-strickland-respond-to-popes-approval-of-homosexual-civil-unions
'Pope’s comments on gay civil unions cause shockwaves around the world' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/deepest-sadness-cardinal-burke-condemns-pope-franciss-remarks-supporting-civil-unions
The Pope’s comments were greeted with dismay by prominent clergy, with former Papal Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, calling them “totally heterodox,” constituting “a very serious cause of scandal for the faithful.” He accused Francis of “trying to raise the stakes’ in a crescendo of heretical affirmations,” in order to create a rupture in the Church.
Farrell’s comments to the press could be the intended interpretation of a potentially problematic line in the CDF’s recent document, which mentioned the “positive elements” of homosexual relationships, “which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated.” Even with these “positive elements,” a blessing could not be given to same-sex couples, wrote the CDF.
The CDF explained that this prohibition was “a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.” In banning blessings of such unions, the document thus appealed not to the law of God, but rather the law of the liturgy, a much weaker argument and one which allows room for alternatives to same-sex “marriages,” provided that they are not seen to be a sacrament, or part of the liturgy.
Deacon Donnelly pointed out this danger, saying Farrell talked about homosexual unions “as if they are just another form of marriage. By doing so he obscures God’s clear judgement that homosexual acts are ‘acts of grave depravity’ (CCC 2357).”
“His neutral tone about homosexual unions makes the mistake also warned against by the CDF [in 1986] of giving an ‘overly benign’ interpretation of the homosexual condition’, thereby misleading people into assuming that ‘… living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.’ (CDF 1986).”