“Fiducia Supplicans” Sparks Immense Mistrust (2)

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez

The prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, on December 18, 2023 published a declaration on the blessing of “irregular couples and same-sex couples.”  This article is an excerpts from an article from Dici no. 440.

Cardinal Fernández Responds to Criticism

Faced with an outcry, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith multiplied the explanations and justifications of Fiducia supplicans: December 23 on The Pillar, December 24 on Religion Digital, and on January 3 in Tagespost. Then on Jannuary 4 he ended up issuing a statement “to clarify the reception” of the December 19 Declaration.

Through his embarrassed explanations and his ineffective justifications, we note some pearls. Thus the Argentine cardinal recognizes that this blessing of homosexual couples is “a subject that causes hives,” as if it were a merely knee-jerk reaction. He should learn what the visceral attachment to the doctrine and morality of the Church is.

Elsewhere, he relativizes the opposition to his text, diluting them in a socio-political context and stating that in certain [African] countries where there are “laws that condemn the mere act of declaring oneself as a homosexual with prison and in some cases with torture and even death, it is likely that some bishops, even if they do not agree with these laws, want to preserve their faithful.” The notion of natural law seems to be foreign to Cardinal Fernández.

In his January 4 press release, he said he wanted to offer a response to the “understandable statements of certain episcopal conferences” concerning Fiducia supplicans. But he warns that their reaction “cannot be interpreted as doctrinal opposition,” because “the document is clear and classic on marriage and sexuality.”

And it is not possible to “doctrinally distance ourselves” from it or to consider it “heretical, contrary to the Tradition of the Church, or blasphemous,” – which is a direct response to the criticisms of his predecessor, Cardinal Muller. The Argentine prelate readily concedes that the Holy See can “admit different modalities of application,” but he rejects any “total or definitive negation of this path proposed to priests.”

Then, he indicates that “pastoral” blessings for couples in an irregular situation must be “very brief” and not last more than “a few seconds.” To help bishops, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith gives an example of a “simple prayer” that would be given to a divorced and civilly remarried couple who would ask for a blessing to help them face trials.

Here is the text: “Lord, look at these children of your, grant them health, work, peace and mutual help. Free them from everything that contradicts your Gospel and allow them to live according to your will. Amen.” This “ten or fifteen second” text offers a “channel” that can lead to a life more faithful to the Gospel, affirms Cardinal Fernández.

The candor (or trickery) of Cardinal Fernández is quickly dissipated when we read the statements of another cardinal who perfectly understands the use that can be made of Fiducia supplicans on the ground. The Archbishop of Bombay, India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a close advisor to the Pope, told the Crux website that in Indian culture, asking and giving blessings is a widely accepted custom:

“I once met the [Hindu] Prime Minister, who asked me for prayers. I assured him of our prayers and blessings,” he confesses, adding, “Our Indian mentality is so inclusive that it includes people of other religions and beliefs. All seek God, all seek truth, all seek spirituality.”

And he insists: “Everyone has a right to God’s love and compassion, and the teaching on blessings in the Roman document is a natural consequence of this principle.” Cardinal Gracias acknowledged that Fiducia supplicans was consistent with his own pastoral practice with the LGBTQ+ community.

“In the past I have said it and I want to say it again, they are part of our family, they need our pastoral care. I met them when they came to see me, sometimes privately in my office. Jesus never refused a blessing…, that’s the idea.” 

This appears to be an authentic interpretation – morally lax and doctrinally syncretistic – of Fiducia supplicans. Cardinal Fernández's pseudo-clarifications are a smokescreen that will only further blind those who do not want to see.

Two Plausible Consequences

The strong reactions aroused by Fiducia supplicans make it possible to predict, in a plausible manner, two consequences which will modify the image that Francis wishes to give of his pontificate: 1. The Pope comes up against the “peripheries” which he claims to love more than the old Christian countries; 2. The conclave he is carefully preparing might not go as he wishes.

1. The image of the “pope of the peripheries” is seriously damaged. Indeed, as noted on December 20 at the American conservative web-log Rorate Cæli: “After Fiducia supplicans, it is impossible to maintain the pretense that Francis and his close acolytes pushing for a change in Church teaching represent the ‘peripheries’ against American Catholics” [or the old Christian countries. Ed.].

“Instead, it is the ‘peripheries’ – those places where the Church is still growing and thriving – that have rejected Fiducia supplicans most definitively.”

2. As Roberto de Mattei points out in Corrispondenza Romana of January 10, with the reactions to Fiducia supplicans, “the new fact, which offers us a key to interpreting the next conclave, is the entry on the scene of bishops and cardinals who had never before publicly expressed their perplexity or criticism of Pope Francis.”

“It is interesting to note that the strongest criticism of Fiducia supplicans has been expressed precisely by those ‘peripheries’ that Pope Francis has so often invoked as bearers of authentic religious and human values, while the philosophy of the document has been approved by certain episcopal conferences, such as those of Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, which represent the most worldly episcopates, far removed from the existential problems of the ‘peripheries.’”

Certainly, notes the Italian academic, “the vast majority of bishops and cardinals have not expressed themselves or, when they have, suggested interpreting Fiducia supplicans in coherence, and not in discontinuity, with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and with the previous March 15, 2021 Responsum by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the possibility of blessing same-sex unions.”

But, notes Mattei, it is “an unsurmountable position for these cardinals and bishops, both on a doctrinal and pastoral level. The reasons for this ambiguity are probably to be found in the fear of entering into open conflict with Pope Francis and the media powers which support him.”

“This magmatic and confused center is, however, not ‘Bergoglian’ and constitutes, from the cardinals point of view, the ‘third’ party [the ‘Swamp’] oscillating between the two minorities who will confront each other during the next conclave: on the one hand the pole of those faithful to the teaching of the Church, on the other hand the pole of those faithful to the ‘new paradigm.’ … Enough to suggest that the next conclave will be conflictual, not short and perhaps not without twists and turns.” 

The same opinion was expressed by Andrea Gagliarducci in the Monday Vatican of January 1: “Some have observed that the pontificate of Pope Francis, with its documents and the contradictions found in the documents, is like a black hole. We are currently witnessing an implosion of the pontificate. Everything that the pope built risks being eroded from within and by the behavior of the people he called to help him.”

“Francis has done what he could to give his shape to the Church. At the beginning of this new year, everything suggests a long preparation for the coming papal election. If this is the case, it will be a controversial one. Expect surprises.” 

The future will tell, and it belongs to God alone.