Fr. Thomas Weinandy: God’s Blessings and Magisterial Teaching

Yesterday, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, published a Declaration, with the signed approval of Pope Francis, entitled Fiducia Supplicans, “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings.” This Declaration articulated the importance of blessings in Biblical, historical, and ecclesial perspectives.

The Declaration states that it “remains firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage, not allowing any type of liturgical rite or blessing similar to a liturgical rite that can create confusion. The value of this document, however, is that it offers a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings, permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings, which is closely linked to a liturgical perspective.”

So, the Declaration wants to uphold the doctrinal integrity of the blessing given within the sacrament of marriage, while simultaneously wanting to allow a blessing that is “linked to,” but not similar to, a liturgical blessing given in marriage, thus, not causing confusion between the two. The Declaration boasts that this provision “implies a real development” that is in keeping with Pope Francis’s “pastoral vision.”

It continues: “It is precisely in this context that one can understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.” Here, one perceives the real reason for which this Declaration was written – to bless “couples in irregular” marriages and to bless “same-sex couples.”

The Declaration elaborates on these two situations. Within this pastoral vision “there appears the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex, the form of which should not be fixed ritually by ecclesial authorities to avoid producing confusion with the blessing proper to the Sacrament of Marriage.”

Nonetheless, although these blessing “do not claim a legitimation of their status,” they “do beg that all that is true, good, humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.” The Declaration sees such blessings in accord with what’s been traditionally called “actual grace. ” The purpose of this grace is “so that human relationships may mature and grow in fidelity to the Gospel, that they may be freed from their imperfections and frailties, and that they may express themselves in the ever-increasing dimension of divine love.”

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