As we argue about the contents of Fiducia Supplicans, with Catholics threatening to walk away from the Church, Anglicans crowing that converts to Catholicism have gone from the frying pan into the fire, and couples in a homosexual relationship looking to plan a spontaneous, non-affirming, casually dressed blessing from Fr James Martin or any other obliging priest, it seems we have allowed despair to cloud hope as clarity gives way to ambiguity.
None of this is to say that the document is a good one or that those behind it aren’t guilty of causing confusion, even division (whatever the unknown intentions). But to be a Catholic is to believe that the Church is more than human; that She is graced with Christ’s real presence and promise of guidance into all Truth, irrespective of what we think we can see now – as C.S. Lewis noted: You have never seen more than an appearance of anything”.
If that is correct then no Catholic should be running anywhere, Anglicans have no need to crow, and people who experience same sex attraction need to understand Fiducia Supplicans in light of the traditional teaching of the Church. If the latter fail to do so, or are not directed to, then there is little point turning to the Church only to be given what the world already offers.
And if, on deeper analysis, the document appears to contradict traditional Church teaching, or to give the impression that the Church can turn an acorn into a Lamborghini, then we can still be confident that any such error will be corrected (even if we like driving the Lamborghini).
It would not be the first time. In the 7th Century the statements by Pope Honorius to Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople, gave ammunition to the Monothelites who denied the hypostatic union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one individual personhood. The then Bishop of Rome might be defended by the argument that he was speaking as a private theologian. But he was not. He was responding to someone seeking the authoritative advice of the Bishop of Rome and he responded in that capacity.
“We shouldn’t have an idealised view of the papacy,” says Catholic convert and theologian Scott Hahn. “Some Popes are good, some are bad, some are fair, others are great, and some are saints, but most are not. This is the living reality of the papacy.”
Whatever confusion exists in the Church right now, we must have faith that clarity will follow, just as it did in the 7th Century.
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