Above: the 14th century Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lviv.
Editor’s note: On December 19, 2023, the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ukraine published the following response to Fiducia supplicans on their official website here. Below is an unofficial English translation by OnePeterFive:
Communiqué of the Ukrainian [Roman Catholic] Bishops’ Conference on the Declaration of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith “FIDUCIA SUPPLICANS” on the pastoral significance of blessings.
The document of the Vatican’s Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith examines the different types of blessings that can be given by clergy outside the liturgy. The document also emphasizes that only those who want to live a life pleasing to God and ask for a blessing can be blessed liturgically. Instead, it expands the understanding of extra-liturgical blessing, which is usually given to all people, by introducing the possibility of “blessing same-sex couples.” It is this possibility that has caused a storm of reactions and misunderstandings about the moral and doctrinal issues in the Catholic Church regarding this kind of blessing.
This is because the concept of “blessing” is perceived by many as “permission,” especially as “permission to sin.” While the entire document makes it clear that there is no “permission” or “blessing” for homosexual cohabitation or any life of sin, nor any change in the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage, the notion of blessing same-sex couples, or even sacramentally irregular couples, can be perceived as legalizing these relationships.
The document seeks to emphasize God’s boundless love for all people, sinners included, and in this regard to show that the Church does not reject these people, namely those with homosexual tendencies or even actions. However, it seems that the text does not clearly show the distinction between the person and his or her manner, the merciful acceptance of the person and the express disapproval of his or her sin.
At the same time, the document focuses mainly on two categories of people: those living in sacramentally irregular relationships (men and women) and same-sex couples. Thus, the document treats the situation of sacramentally irregular male-female couples and same-sex couples equally. Both situations are gravely sinful, however, they need to be treated separately.
We see danger in ambiguous formulations that cause divergent interpretations among the faithful. What we perceive as lacking in the document is that the Gospel calls sinners to conversion, and without a call to leave the sinful life of homosexual couples, the blessing may look like an approval. However, we emphasize that the document repeatedly stresses that the blessing of same-sex couples is in no way a legalization of such cohabitation, and the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Sacrament of Matrimony, which is the union of a man and a woman, remains unchanged.
Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops of Ukraine
19 December 2023