In this text the Daily Compass and the Cardinal Van Thuân Observatory propose an overall assessment of the Declaration Fiducia supplicans. We have allowed some time to pass since its publication in order to favour an accurate and complete reflection. Indeed, the Declaration raises many serious issues that must be addressed separately, but also and above all in a unified framework. It seems to have taken a fatal step, a turning point in the doctrine and practice of the Church, decisively crossed a boundary. Some commentators have spoken of ‘disaster’ and ‘scandal’. This calls for a responsible and comprehensive analysis.
Some formal observations
The Declaration was published on 18 December 2023. It is signed by the Prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández and, with the formula ex audientia, by Pope Francis. It was not examined by the assembly of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, but only, as the text states, by the Doctrinal Section. The formula of papal approval is among the weakest: it seems to say only that the pope has been informed, which contrasts with the great magisterial relevance that a Declaration has. A similar thing had happened with the Responsum of 2021, which, as we know, said the opposite and towards which Francis had not hidden his impatience. In that case, at the foot of the text, it only said that the pope had been informed.
Two other formal aspects of the Declaration should also be noted. The first is that most of the magisterial references refer to interventions by Pope Francis. There has never been a document so limited in its references to the previous magisterium. It says that the Declaration is ‘based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis’, as if this were a unicum. The third is that the argumentation of the text is very weak and its level is disfigured when compared to the argumentative structure of, for example, Dominus Jesus (2000), which was also a Declaration like this one, i.e. a document of high magisterial rank.
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