Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

An evolution that is according to the Gospel

Vita Pastorale 14.02.2024 Enzo Bianchi Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

Of the synodal itinerary begun in October 2021, some fruits are beginning to be seen. Admittedly, no important decisions have been taken so far, postponed to the end of the second session to be held in autumn 2024 - or even later, since it will be promulgated by the Bishop of Rome, who will be responsible for the final discernment -, but some responses of the Holy See to the wishes expressed by the Bishops' Conferences and which emerged during the synodal debate are already visible. The Church has set itself in motion with determination, according to the wishes of Pope Francis, in view of a renewal that is also a reform of the Church itself.

For example, the change brought about by the Pope to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, as can be seen in a letter full of Parousia on the task of the body and of the ecclesiastics involved in it, envisages that this Dicastery no longer has only the precious task of "guarding the teaching that flows from the faith to give reason for our hope", a task to be carried out "not as enemies who point and condemn". The Pope warned that if the Dicastery had gone so far as to use immoral methods and pursue doctrinal errors, now instead it must help the Church to grow in the Word’s interpretation, allowing different currents of philosophical, theological and pastoral thought, humanised by the Holy Spirit in the logic of respect and love, to take hold.

Henceforth, the Lord's little flock will not be intimidated and at times persecuted by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, as it has been the case up to now, and theologians will be able to carry out their research with freedom, without fear. This clearly evangelical change is not insignificant, which excludes easy recourse to the ministry of condemnation and hopes that it will rather seek to correct when the need arises, proposing ways of listening to one another, of serious confrontation, of fraternal charity.

Another change that has taken place, more urged by several Northern European episcopates that are already experimenting with this practice, concerns the blessings given to persons and couples who concretely live in a situation contrary to Catholic doctrine: divorced, cohabiting, homophiles, etc.

Clarity is needed here, that sincere and loyal clarity that, unfortunately, has been lacking in the reaction to the document Fiducia supplicans of the Dicastery of the Faith. Yes, perhaps the document could have been drafted more in keeping with the theological and juridical language of the Church, but it does not lack clarity. It affirms that there is a possibility of blessing for couples in irregular and same-sex situations, without validating their status or changing the Church's traditional teaching.

We Christians, actually, know that every creature is already blessed and does not need a blessing because true blessing, according to the Bible, is to bless God for that creature. This doctrine goes back as far as to rabbis, who when confronted with a request for a blessing of something replied yes, but always in the sense of blessing God for that thing!

Personally, before blessing any couple, whether heterophile or homophile, I would ask that the two partners bless the Lord for the love they live, because it is a gift they receive.

In the blessing we certainly cannot praise God for what cannot be good, holy, according to God's will, in their lives. But because the practice of blessing things of the world - stables, pigs, even weapons-, has been established, it must be borne in mind that if one implores God's blessing on a couple in an irregular situation, one is not blessing the sin, the contradiction to Catholic doctrine and God's will as it is expressed in the holy scriptures, but simply blessing those people, who are far greater than their sin.

Here it is a question of perspective: many see in others only disordered and forbidden sexuality, and fail to discern that every person is capax bonum, and that there are often those who live love for their neighbour and faith in God while failing to meet the demands of chastity. And then beware: it is a sin when two persons bond in a confused way, psychically married, even without the exercise of genitality. One does not want to realise this, but chastity is the opposite of incest (incastus) and demands distinction, freedom, not confusion or conjugality, whether there is exercise of genitality or not.

If a father gives a blessing to a homophilic son, he does not give it because of his homophilia, but because his son is greater than that aspect of his person. And so does the Church when it blesses people, their lives: the blessing is always a call to conversion, to a change of life, to faithfully following the Lord. This is why the blessing to people in an irregular situation should not be given in the context of a liturgy, but, as the good and hospitable life suggests, be given when the occasion arises: neither ostentatiously, nor absconded... It should be celebrated in life, looking at life, and may the Lord be Lord of the blessing. This too is a step of mercy that Pope Francis makes the Church take so that all may feel drawn to Christ, who has promised to draw all to himself.

We know of a reaction to this document by entire bishops' conferences in Eastern Europe and especially in Africa. Thus emerges the problem of which I have been speaking for years, pointing out the need to prepare ourselves for the confrontation with the different cultures that today conflict with the faith. It is a novelty of the last twenty years, of which the Anglican Church has been the first to pay the price in a clash that has taken place between the Anglican Churches of the North and those of the South (Africa above all) on the issues of the ordination of women and homophile bishops. The Anglicans have attempted, not without trauma, to resolve the issue by avoiding schisms, with the acceptance of reconciled differences.

For the Catholic Church it may not be so: it is up to each bishop to discern the possibility of granting a blessing to irregular couples in his diocese, assessing whether the faith of God's people is ripe for such reception. And, in any case, with the commitment to study, to pursue knowledge of the problem, without radically opposing the indications of the Dicastery of the Faith. On the other hand, this will not be the only problem of reception: cultures now have great weight and in their confrontation with the faith they cannot be set aside as in the past, when always and only the faith, witnessed by Rome, was for all and accepted by all. In the coming decades we will witness the emergence of different cultural areas with different attitudes towards the faith. And this to the extent that the invoked inculturation of faith, morals, and liturgy will take place!

In any case, we are witnessing an evolution that is according to the Gospel and in which Pope Francis encourages us with Parousia and prophetic spirit: he wants a Church faithful to the Gospel, with the primacy of love, of mercy that does not exclude, does not condemn, does not marginalise, does not humiliate, but recognises and loves the children of God. A mother Church, no longer a stepmother! Francis wants a Church with the primacy of mercy, which neither condemns nor excludes.

See, Un’evoluzione che è secondo il vangelo

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The comments from our readers (2)

Paul Attard 02.04.2024 I think that a church blessing will be seen as endorsing same sex or similar even though the church thinks otherwise. But a good idea to talk of God’s blessing on a couple and in the hope that they will try to do the will of God rather than their own.
Bernard Farine 02.04.2024 Sur le fond, si j'adhère au regard de miséricorde sur tous, je reste étranger au discours sur le péché et sur les arguties un peu "jésuites" autour de la vie de couple en général. Cette partie du texte est un peu indigeste.