After the publication of the Vatican Fiducia Supplicans — a document outlining when people in same-sex or otherwise “abnormal” couples can be blessed — the global Catholic Church has seen battle lines forming around its implementation.
While the first disagreements came from African bishops in countries such as Nigeria, Zambia, Cameroon and Malawi, now Eastern European leaders have disagreed.
“Since the practice of sexual acts outside of marriage, that is, outside of the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open to the transmission of life, is always an offense against the will and wisdom of God expressed in the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, people who are in such a relationship they cannot receive a blessing,” the Polish Episcopal Conference wrote in response to the statement.
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“This is especially true for people in same-sex relationships,” the Polish statement added, according to translations by the Catholic News Agency.
Fiducia Supplicans confirmed the inability of the Catholic Church to change the sacrament of marriage, which it defines as “an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children”.
However, it defined rights for “spontaneous” blessings given to people in same-sex relationships who seek to live more moral lives. It also clarifies that the “union” between two members of the same sex cannot be blessed — only the individuals themselves.
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Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said Friday that Catholics in the church’s Eastern Rite should not follow the document’s instructions, according to translations from the Catholic blog Rorate Caeli.
Shevchuk said the Vatican document “interprets the pastoral meaning of blessings in the Latin Church, not in the Eastern Catholic Churches. It does not address issues of Catholic faith or ethics, does not refer to any prescription of the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, and does not mention Christians of the East”.
He continued, saying that because it is not a Catholic teaching on faith and morals, it “applies exclusively to the Latin Church and has no legal force for the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.”
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The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the second largest particular church in the Catholic Church — smaller only than the main Latin or “Roman Catholic” church.
“According to the traditions of the Byzantine rite, the concept of ‘blessing’ means approval, permission or even command for a certain type of action, prayer and ascetic practices, including certain types of fasting and prayer,” Shevchuk said, noting the differences in pastoral customs between the Ukrainian Greek and Latin churches.
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He concluded: “Pastoral discernment urges us to avoid ambiguous gestures, expressions and concepts that would distort or misinterpret the word of God and the teaching of the Church.”
Its publication Fiducia Supplicans has been a nightmare for worldwide Church unity, inspiring heated debate among bishops, priests and laity as the document’s author, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, raises questions about the ambiguous text.
In an interview with the Catholic news agency The Pillar, Fernández said: “These kinds of blessings are just simple pastoral channels that help express people’s faith, even if these people are great sinners.”
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He added, “Therefore, by giving this blessing to two people who spontaneously come to ask for it, one can legitimately ask God to give them health, peace, prosperity—the things that we all ask for and can ask for a sinner. .”
The cardinal confirmed to The Pillar that blessings in the context of a same-sex or otherwise irregular couple are intended to invoke God to help them live more according to the Gospel.
“The proclamation also mentions a request for help from the Holy Spirit so that this relationship, which is often unknown to the priest, is purified from everything that does not correspond to the Gospel and the will of God and matures along the way. of God’s plan,” explained Fernández.