Monday, October 30, 2023

The Pope's Response to the Cardinals' Second Dubium

On July 10, 2023, five cardinals transmitted a series of five dubia to Pope Francis. The second concerns the blessing of same-sex couples: “Can the Church… [accept] as a ‘possible good’ objectively sinful situations, such as unions of persons of the same sex, without breaching the revealed doctrine?”

On July 11, 2023, Pope Francis responds to these dubia. As for the second dubium, he recognizes that “the Church has a very clear conception of marriage: an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the begetting of children. It calls this union ‘marriage.’” But he adds that “other forms of union only realize it ‘in a partial and analogical way’ (Amoris laetitia, 292). And so they cannot be strictly called ‘marriage.’”

He recognizes that this name must be reserved exclusively for “the reality that we call marriage.” He adds that “the Church avoids any rite or sacramental [blessing] that could contradict this conviction and give the impression that something that is not marriage is recognized as marriage.”

However, “in dealing with people, we must not lose the pastoral charity. … The defense of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity, which is also made up of kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement. Therefore, we cannot become judges who only deny, reject, exclude.”

Francis then invokes “pastoral prudence [which] must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage. For when a blessing is requested, one is expressing a request for help from God, a plea for a better life, a trust in a Father who can help us to live better.”

Then comes the exception: “On the other hand, although there are situations that from an objective point of view, are not morally acceptable, pastoral charity itself demands that we do not simply treat as ‘sinners’ other people whose guilt or responsibility can be due to their own fault or responsibility attenuated by various factors that influence subjective imputability.”

There is a very big difference between giving absolution to a person whose responsibility is attenuated and “blessing,” before the Church and the faithful, the objectively bad situation in which he has found himself, thus closing off any possibility of opening himself to the truth while misleading the other faithful.

To mitigate the previous point, the Pope explains that “decisions which, in certain circumstances, can form part of pastoral prudence, should not necessarily become a norm.”

In other words: “It is not appropriate for a diocese, an episcopal conference or any other ecclesial structure to constantly and officially authorize procedures or rites for all kinds of matters, since everything ‘that is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level or a rule’” (Amoris laetitia, 304).

Behind this formulation which seems to rule out a systematization of a rite, the fact remains that the Pope clearly accepts that, according to pastoral prudence, in certain circumstances, a priest could be led – and therefore authorized – to bless a homosexual couple. It is this acceptance that led the five cardinals to reformulate their dubium:

“Is it possible, under ‘certain circumstances,’ for a priest to bless homosexual unions thereby suggesting that homosexual behavior itself would not be contrary to God's law and a person's path to God?”


Even if the Pope's response seems to rule out “official authorization” of the blessing of same-sex couples by an ecclesial structure, the fact remains that he authorizes it at least in “certain circumstances.” Moreover, as was the case with the Belgian bishops, he let it happen.

Sources: CNA/FSSPX.News – FSSPX.News