(LifeSiteNews) — The new prefect for the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Víctor Cardinal Fernández made recent comments that in their ambiguity certainly signal approval of “blessings” for same-sex unions. It is not an exaggeration to say that many in the Church, including several bishops, Synod on Synodality participants, and Vatican officials, are obsessed with this issue.
Before we examine Fernández’ statements made to LifeSiteNews reporter Michael Haynes, perhaps we should know the Catholic teaching on the very subject of blessings. Indeed, with all the hoopla on the subject of “blessing” same-sex unions, little attention has been paid to the actual teaching on what constitutes a blessing as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. As we see, blessings are sacramentals:
1667 “Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”
1668 Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. … They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism).
1670 Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. “For well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is scarcely any proper use of material things which cannot be thus directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.”176
1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”177 This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.
On October 19, LifeSiteNews reported on the Fernández interview with LSN reporter Michael Haynes. Fernández first correctly articulated Catholic doctrine on marriage: “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.” Ok, so far, so good. Then he cautioned that “blessing” such unions must not cause “confusion” that such unions are equated with marriage, as such “blessing” “is not good for the Church.”
But here is where the prefect already wades into trouble. Similar to Pope Francis’ recent response to a dubium on the issue of “blessing” same-sex unions, the issue isn’t simply about making sure such “blessings” do not compromise what the Church knows is the truth and reality of marriage as designed by God. The problem is exactly what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught in response to a 2021 dubium then under prefect Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, S.J. To the question proposed: “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” The response was: “Negative.”
“[I]t is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage … as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” the response stated.
And the ultimate reason why the Church cannot bless same-sex unions according to the CDF is because: “[God] does not and cannot bless sin.”
I think it is fair to say that neither Pope Francis nor Fernández ever refer to the CDF teaching, much less rely on it to definitely close the issue on the “blessing” of same-sex unions. If they did, the issue would be settled, at least doctrinally settled, doing much to quell the debate. Indeed, efforts have been made to even discredit the CDF’s 2021 answer to the dubium.
According to Juan Carlos Cruz, who is openly homosexual and was appointed by Francis to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2021, Francis removed the bishop who was responsible for the CDF’s negative answer to the dubium. As LifeSiteNews reported, according to Cruz: “Pope Francis did indeed remove a CDF official credited with the document which has since proved so controversial amongst LGBT advocates. In January 2022, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi was named as bishop of the Italian diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, in what was billed as a move done in order to remove him from the Vatican’s halls of power. Morandi was the CDF’s secretary, thus number two in the high-ranking Vatican Congregation.”
Sr. Jeannine Gramick, the co-founder of heretical LGBT group New Ways Ministry, alleges that Francis signed the CDF’s response but did so not fully aware of its condemnation of “blessings” for same-sex unions – which, of course, hardly seems likely! Indeed, when Francis was asked to comment on the CDF March 15, 2021, response to the dubium, he stated it was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite.”
“Blessings” for same-sex unions vary. Perhaps the most egregious is the formal rite of blessing approved and published in September 2022 by the Catholic bishops of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium – well after the directive from the CDF. The rite parodies the sacrament of marriage and without question confirms and approves unions that are objectively sinful. The following exchange of vows is suggested:
“God of love and faithfulness, today we stand before You surrounded by family and friends. We thank You that we could find each other. We want to be there for each other in all circumstances of life. We confidently express here that we want to work towards each other’s happiness day by day. We pray: grant us strength to be faithful to each other and deepen our commitment. In your nearness we trust, from your Word we want to live, given to each other for always.”
Then the congregation prays for the two homosexuals: “Let the love they share delight them and help them be of service in our community. Give us the strength to walk with them, together in the footsteps of your Son and strengthened by your Spirit.” This is followed by the formal, public “blessing.”
And if the Flemish bishops hoped to avoid confusion between such “blessings” and marriage, such confusion was nonetheless advanced. The bishops’ own spokesman, Willy Bombeek, himself homosexual, who served as coordinator of the “Homosexuality & Faith” working group since early 2021, stated: “The Church felt there should be something for LGBTI people of faith alongside church marriage.” So, “alongside church marriage,” homosexual couples have their own rite!
There is no evidence that the bishops of Flanders have ever been admonished by Pope Francis, and certainly they have not been disciplined by the Vatican.
As for other rites of blessing, priests in over 100 parishes in Germany, in defiance of the CDF’s 2021 declaration, proceeded to “bless” same-sex unions, more or less in “do-it-yourself” type ceremonies with the support of many German bishops.
And of course, it is likely that many same-sex couples have received a “blessing” in private from priests who approve of such unions.
So, while Fernández indicated that there can be no “blessing” of same-sex unions if such “blessings” confuse such unions with the sacrament of marriage, it is obvious he was more than open to a type of “blessing” for such couples, as he told Michael Haynes: “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.”
At face value, the statement is at best thoughtless – at worst, reckless. What does the new prefect mean that blessings may be given to “every people in every situation?” Perhaps he simply meant that blessings are given by priests, for instance, to a wide variety of persons who come to ask for a blessing for many diverse reasons. However, it is the next statement that indicates that apparently it doesn’t matter if the situation of the persons who ask for a blessing is objectively immoral, as “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.” Now, yes, it is possible that someone who is committing sin may ask for a blessing, as many persons are seeking God’s grace to be delivered from sin. Say, for example, a drug addict who sincerely wants to be delivered from this destructive habit. Or someone in the throes of an adulterous relationship who knows it’s sinful and seeks to find a way out. But Fernández was responding to a question about “blessing” same-sex unions, and since, according to him, we don’t need to know anything about the Christian life or morals of such couples, such couples may ask for the “blessing” of their objectively sinful behavior as if it doesn’t matter.
The CCC states clearly that blessings as sacramentals may be given “For well-disposed members of the faithful,” as “the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives with the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.” If homosexual couples ask for a “blessing” of their union, they are hardly “well-disposed,” and the Church cannot sanctify with “divine grace” objectively sinful behavior, which indeed homosexual couples who desire their unions to be “blessed” are asking the Church to do. Frankly, such “blessings” would be a sacrilege, and ultimately spiritually to the detriment of the same-sex couples seeking such approval.
Of course, any person suffering same-sex attraction may ask for a blessing when he or she is sincerely open to the grace of God to live the Christian life, desiring to overcome difficult personal struggles. Indeed, blessings can be given to those who are not in a state of grace but truly simply wish to draw closer to God. Nonetheless, Fernández did say blessings can be given “to every people in every situation.” This is pretty wide open! Again, taken at face value, does this mean priests may “bless” an abortionist on his way to the abortion center or a drug dealer just before he’s about to sell cocaine? Certainly, Fernández, if pressed to clarify, would say no, that’s not what he meant. But the whole problem with his ambiguity, and the ambiguity of which Pope Francis is well known, is such lack of clarity means that he approves of “blessings” for same-sex couples – or at least he is comfortable with such an interpretation.
However, the Fernández “blessings” for “every people in every situation” is not the most concerning of his remarks. Fernández gave an interview to Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin published in the National Catholic Register on September 11, 2023. Pentin posed the following question: “In an interview with InfoVaticana in July, you seemed to be open to Church blessings of same-sex couples if they can be carried out without causing confusion. Could you explain more what you meant by this? What sort of confusion were you referring to?”
Fernández responded: “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.”
Notice the nuance regarding the Church’s teaching on marriage: he said oddly that the doctrine is “at this point” something the Church “understands” as “an indissoluble union between a man and a woman who, in their differences, are naturally open to beget life.” Fernández’ peculiar statement gives the impression that at some other point, undoubtedly in the future, the Church may “understand” marriage differently, as if the teaching was not the immutable design of God given in the beginning!
Fernández immediately commented on the development of doctrine, again in the context of “blessing” same-sex unions: “But it is clear that even the Church does not yet fully grasp the full richness of the Gospel. In some areas it has taken centuries for the Church to make explicit aspects of doctrine which at other times she did not see so clearly,” he said. And he more than insinuated that the Church’s doctrine on marriage can change, as she now condemns “torture, slavery and the death penalty … But this did not happen with the same clarity in other centuries … The doctrine does not change,” he said, but the Church “will always need to continue to grow in her understanding.”
If there is any clarity, it is this: Fernández would approve “blessing” same-sex unions if such “blessings” did not confuse such unions with the sacrament of marriage, thus contrary to the CDF’s directive. He would approve “blessing” sin, though according to his version of the development of doctrine, perhaps such unions are not sinful after all!
Let us face the facts! All of this is a blatant contradiction of everything true and holy, contrary to the Revelation of God given in Scripture, revealed in natural law – a sacrilege against the Lord’s good creation.