Word Salad: A Clarification That Obfuscates

In many ways, the clarification published by Cardinal Fernández on January 4, 2024, is even worse than the original document it purports to clarify, the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans of December 18, 2023.

Fernández doubles down on the idea of “non-liturgical blessings,” but this frankly makes no sense. A priest is a minister of God who, when he makes the sign of the cross over someone or something, is doing a religious, ministerial, efficacious, and, yes, ritual act. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes (“about 10 or 15 seconds” he says, with a grainy hands-on approach) or how simple it is (a model is suggested: “Lord, look at these children of yours, grant them health, work, peace and mutual help. Free them from everything that contradicts your Gospel and allow them to live according to your will. Amen”).

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops were right to point out that according to their theology, blessings are inherently liturgical. But that was also the traditional Western view, and, ironically, something the Liturgical Movement tried to recover, a point we can see expressed in Sacrosanctum Concilium at Vatican II. Fiducia Supplicans marks a departure from both ecumenism and sound liturgical theology. (Ironically, this makes it anti-Vatican II and anti-liturgical reform, as Matthew Hazell shows… something you’d think would matter to these folks who made adherence to Vatican II—as they conceive it—the very reason for their campaign against the traditional Latin Mass. Or perhaps the clue lies in “as they conceive it…”)

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