Pope Francis waves during a general audience in St. Peter's Square. CNS Photo

'Fiducia supplicans' a blessing for the Church

By  roderick “Rory” McKay, Catholic Register Special
  • January 18, 2024

Fiducia supplicans is exactly the document that was needed to address the confusion and error circulating among both the heretical progressive clergy who are seeking to legitimize and affirm same-sex unions and the radical conservatives who are unable to recognize the significant and relevant nuance that the issue naturally includes.

The document states in no uncertain terms that Church doctrine does not alter course, that same-sex unions cannot be condoned or affirmed, yet also recognizes that it is and indeed has always been entirely possible to give a blessing that does not endorse a disordered understanding of sexual relationships. 

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith is getting right at the heart of the whole argument, which is that the term “to bless” carries multiple meanings, which have heretofore been irresponsibly conflated and mixed so as to introduce a controversy that in all seriousness could have been avoided if people had followed the linguistic prudence of St. Thomas in avoiding such equivocation. It is clearly necessary to distinguish between a corrupted, secularized meaning of “blessing,” which signifies approval or endorsement of something, and the proper, ancient sense of the word, meaning to impart grace upon something.

Consider the formerly common practice of a man asking his fiancée’s father for his blessing upon the marriage. In the proper original context, this would mean that the father in his role as spiritual head of the family is literally asking the Lord to give grace upon the couple.

But as society became secularized and lost its understanding of liturgical terminology, the meaning of this “blessing” became corrupted so that “to give one’s blessing” now just means to approve of and affirm something.

Hence, the progressive element in the Church wishes to “bless” in the sense of “approving and affirming,” which of course cannot be allowed given the sinful nature of the acts in question. But that hardly forbids a priest from asking the Lord to give someone in a disordered relationship the grace they require. The latter is, as I have ascertained, the correct understanding of what Fiducia supplicans has given the name of a “pastoral blessing.”

This, rather than some kind of deceptive “obfuscation” of the issue as a recent Catholic Register editorial seems to be trying to suggest, is why the document required 5,000 words to fully clarify the teaching of the Church. It is disingenuous to pretend that a document which addresses the thorny issue of same-sex blessings could take the form of a simple “yes-or-no” answer, just as the disputing cardinals from a few months ago wanted. Such bad “all-or-nothing” takes, with no nuance from both the progressive element and the conservative, are unhelpful and perpetuate an uncharitable dichotomy. 

Lastly, it is not very proper to say that Fiducia supplicans is liable to cause schism as a result of its own merits. If the document has caused any controversy at all, it is solely because people in these days do not have the attention span necessary to read and understand its message properly. Both Fr. James Martin and his ilk, as well as radical conservative observers, have severely misunderstood, misreported and misused the document’s message, which results from reading the document solely in isolation, without the greater context of the Vatican’s previous statements in 2021 and in October 2023. When read in light of those statements, it becomes clear that the document is by no means a “radical change” or even a “step” away from Church doctrine.

If anyone rejects the Magisterium and schisms because of this document, I say it is not because the document was itself bad, but because he lacks the attention span and reading comprehension ability to understand what it is actually saying.

(Roderick “Rory” McKay is a 25-year-old student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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