" ITREALMS: Stepping down the document: Fiducia Supplicans - ITREALMS

Friday, December 22, 2023

Stepping down the document: Fiducia Supplicans - ITREALMS

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The internet has been awash with sensational journalists writing high and low about the new documents released in Rome. Indeed, I felt the gravity of the problem yesterday evening when, within an hour, I got four calls from priest friends and religious asking if I have seen the new document and what sense do I make of it. I was lucky to have glanced through it before their calls came, so I responded to them and, like the document, advised them to bypass journalists and go read the document itself. Now, in catechism format, I attempt to simplify the document.

Stepping down the document: Fiducia Supplicans - ITREALMS
1. Is the Document Entirely about Gays & Lesbians?
No, it is about pastoral closeness to those in irregular union in general.

2. What is the meaning of irregular union as used by the document?
Irregular union, as used in the document, encompasses such cases as divorced and remarried couples who were not granted annulments for their previous marriages, those living in same-sex unions, and the like.

3. Who issued the document?
The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued Fiducia Supplicans on Monday, a declaration on the “pastoral meaning of blessings,” specifically treating the blessing of Catholics in irregular unions or same-sex couples.

4. Why was the document issued?
Before the synod on synodality that was held in Rome in October 2023 amongst the questions asked the Holy Father directly by a group of bishops (DUBIA) was whether "the Church is now going to be blessing irregular so-called marriages or not." By rule, the Pope was expected to answer yes or no, but this time he did not. Thus, the DDF tried to explain to those who asked that question "what is meant by blessing in the Church. So, the document talks of two types of blessings: Ritual/Spontaneous Blessing & Liturgical Blessing. Every faithful, even a thief, has the right to ask a priest to pray for him or her, not to be a confirmed thief but as a sign of belief, and the priest with his prudence can pray for him or bless her. In the same way, when gay or lesbians ask for prayer, it is not a call for nuptial Mass; the priest is free to pray for them without judging them whether worthy or unworthy of blessings.

5. What is the content of the Document?
The document explores the theme of blessings, distinguishing between ritual and liturgical ones, and spontaneous ones more akin to signs of popular devotion. It is precisely in this second category there is now consideration of the possibility of welcoming even those who do not live according to the norms of Christian moral doctrine but humbly request to be blessed. Twenty-three years have passed since the former “Holy Office” published a Declaration (the last one was in August 2000 with “Dominus Jesus”), a document of such doctrinal importance.

6. What does the document say about Blessing?
When a blessing is invoked on certain human relationships through a special liturgical rite, the Declaration notes, “it is necessary that what is blessed corresponds with God’s designs written in creation” (par. 11). Therefore, the Church does not have the power to impart a liturgical blessing on irregular or same-sex couples. It is also necessary to avoid the risk of reducing the meaning of blessings to this point of view only, expecting for a simple blessing “the same moral conditions for a simple blessing that are called for in the reception of the sacraments” (par. 12).

7. Has the Teaching on the Church on Marriage now changed?
No, it has not. What the position of the Church has been is still what it is: marriage is between a mature man and woman, with full consent and within the levels approved by God, society, and the Church.

8. What is the difference between blessing a marriage and blessing a same-sex couple?
There are many differences: a. Marriage is a liturgical act and not a spontaneous one; thus, it has proper place, persons, form, and matter. b. In marriage, the Church blesses in a liturgical act the union and the persons. But in the issue of blessing for those in irregular marriage, the Church only prays for the individual and NOT their union, and the Church lacks their records as those whose togetherness is recognized or solemnized as marriage.

9. Why is everyone saying the Church has approved Same-sex marriage?
It is important to say here that there is nothing in the Church lexicon as Same-sex marriage; no, by the scriptures and Church documents, marriage is between two persons of the opposite sex; anything short of that is not marriage. The closest word might be irregular marriage, and it encompasses a range of practices. Now to your question, it is the fault of journalists who failed to practice ethically. You may have seen such a similar attitude from them on the third Sunday of November (World Day of the Poor) when Pope Francis invited the poor to the table. Because journalists spotted some persons whom they know or think are in irregular marriages, they framed the news to Pope Francis dining with gays and lesbians.

10. Can I read the document in question?
Yes, that is highly advised, and below is the link (www.vaticannews.va).
And if you are unable to access the link, ask any Catholic priest close to you for a soft copy of the document.

Thanks for reading.

*Contributed by Fr. Okhueleigbe Osemhantie.

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