Quest’s Response to the CDF statement on ‘the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex’

Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex, 15.03.2021

TO THE QUESTION PROPOSED: Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?

RESPONSE: Negative.

(See here for the full CDF statement and explanatory notes)

What does Quest have to say

Is Quest surprised to read this: of course not though we are disappointed.  The statement and explanatory note do not change anything that we did not already know. What is interesting is it comes at a time when progressives, including some Bishops, are considering with discernment the lived rather than mythical experiences of LGBT+ people of faith living in stable, committed and faithful relationships. Many parishes are already affirming their LGBT+ siblings whether single or in relationships.

Those who would claim that such a notion is against tradition usually fail to identify exactly which snapshot in the timeline of our Church’s evolutionary path they are hankering after and fail to acknowledge that Church teaching is not, and never has been, something static.  Church teaching continues to evolve over time as the intention of God is increasingly revealed to us.

Does this CDF statement change what Pope Francis said about civil unions: No – we don’t think so.  He was talking about civil rights and not hierarchically determined church rights and he rightly separates the two.  For too long they have been conflated and this deliberate confusion has been led by some in the hierarchical church. What might be seen as Francis’ dichotomy might therefore be both informative and progressive.

So would we expect the CEO of this multi-national organisation to have to sign off on a statement which is built on current organisational policy: yes. However we are left hopeful (and smiling) when the same person, Francis, goes to the very margins of the Church (‘smelling of the sheep’ to say it in his own words) and makes statements which are less simplistic, less binary, more cognisant of the incredible diversity of humans on the planet, and which are rooted in significant Church teachings around Social Justice and the common dignity that comes from recognition that we are all made in God’s image.

Positively it again brings to the attention of many Catholics that some of the people of God that they love and care for: their LGBT+ children, family members, friends and colleagues (our communities), are being treated badly by those tasked with ministering to them.  No attempt to wrap this up nicely will change the fact that this statement will be unnecessarily hurtful and damaging to many.

Sadly and perhaps most significantly, statements like these continue to marginalise us and as a result inflame homophobia when read by some as licence to discriminate.  This discrimination too often manifests as spiritual, economic, political, emotional and/or physical violence against people that our Catechism makes clear are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. The hierarchical church (as we have seen in Ghana recently) cannot continue to plead ignorance of, or impunity for, the impact of what it says and does.

Gerard Swan
(pronouns: He/him/his)

On behalf of Quest

Note added 16-03-2021

It is feasible that the CDF were forced into the position of having to release this statement (Responsum) if a bishop intentionally, perhaps maliciously, submitted this particular question (dubium) knowing that in responding the CDF can only answer based on current official church teaching, ie forcing it to restate the current position. This note does not change Quest’s response, but we recognise our duty to ensure that the broader landscape of what might have happened is understood.

As a result of the statement

“A top German bishop has expressed his disappointment with the Vatican’s recent statement”.

See below.

Read Also

  1. New Ways Ministry Calls Vatican’s Ban on Blessing Same-Gender Couples An Impotent Decision
  2. New Ways Ministry: Catholic Parishes Are Already Supporting and Celebrating Same-Gender Couples
  3. GNRC: LGBTIQ+ Catholic Groups Worldwide Remind the Vatican that “What God Has Made Clean, You Are Not to Call Profane”
  4. Open Table: Vatican statement declares blessing same-sex relationships is ‘illicit’ – OTN responds
  5. New Ways Ministry: Top German Bishop “Not Happy” with Vatican Ban on Blessing Same-Gender Couples
  6. Religious Media Centre: Vatican rules out blessing same-sex marriage
  7. Austrian Priests Respond to Vatican Ban on Queer Blessings with “Call to Disobedience”
  8. Cardinal Cupich, Elton John, and LGBTQ Catholics [Quest] Comment on Vatican’s Blessings Ban
  10. Bishop Is “Ashamed” of Church, Apologizes for Vatican’s Ban on Same-Gender Blessings
  11. Nearly 1,000 Pastoral Ministers in Germany Commit to Blessing Same-Gender Couples
  12. Sign the Statement to Protest Vatican’s Decision Against Blessing Same-Gender Couples
  13. “Out of love for the truth that resides in our hearts” Open letter to Pope Francis from Catholic parents of LGBT children
  14. No entrance controls for God’s blessing!
  15. The REAL Church is Truly Speaking—In Support of Same-Sex Blessings
  16. [Mary] McAleese condemns ‘cruel’ ruling on same-sex blessings
  17. Same-sex blessings and the CDF – how to recognise a tantrum (by James Alison)
  18. “Out of love for the truth that resides in our hearts” Open letter to Pope Francis from Catholic parents of LGBT children Italian
  19. Vatican ban on blessings of same-sex unions “deeply flawed”, say theologians
  20. Tablet article ‘Priests take aim at ‘outdated’ CDF on LGBT+ people’ which includes in full the text of response letters from the parish of St Agnes and St Aidan, Liverpool and from the LBGTQ+ Ministry in the Diocese of Clifton
  21. 100+ Theologians Support New Ways Ministry’s Pledge to Bless Same-Gender Couples
  22. Organizations Representing One Million Catholic Women Call for Same-Gender Blessings
  23. Globally, More and More Catholics in Ministry Object to Vatican’s Ban on Same-Gender Blessings
  24. Gay Pastors in Netherlands Vow to Ignore Vatican Ban on Same-Gender Blessings
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