The Synodal Spirit: Dissent Against Doctrine

The fruits of the “synodal spirit” infecting the Catholic Church are revealing themselves: dissent and division. In a letter dated late last month, Berlin’s archbishop Heiner Koch gave priests of his archdiocese permission to bless same-sex unions, in direct defiance of the Vatican’s repeated clarifications. Back in March, the final meeting of the German Synodal Way approved a document calling on the nation’s bishops “to officially allow blessing ceremonies in their dioceses for couples who love each other and want to commit themselves, but to whom sacramental marriage is not accessible or who do not want to enter into it.”

Even earlier, all the way back in 2021, Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) clarified officially and explicitly that no priest, bishop, diocese, or even the Vatican has the authority to bless same-sex unions. The dictum explained, “In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons.” But blessings, the Vatican explained, are sacramentals, which signify the sacraments and are meant to help the faithful prepare, through the prayers of the Church, to receive the powerful graces conferred through sacraments by uniquely sanctifying “various occasions of life.” (READ MORE: Two Popes on Church Doctrine: Rupture and Retrospect)

Blessings, as a form of sacramental, can only be granted to those things which are, by their nature, disposed to receive the graces for which the sacramental is intended to prepare them: in other words, only things ordered rightly according to God’s design can be blessed, disordered things cannot be. “For this reason,” the CDF declared, “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage … as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.” Additionally, since sacramentals are analogous to the sacraments, blessing a same-sex union would be making that union analogous to the sacrament of marriage, which cannot be as the Church defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

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