ROME — Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has issued a searing critique of the Vatican’s recent text allowing the blessing of homosexual couples.
The Vatican document, titled Fiducia Supplicans (FS), has made “an affirmation that has no precedent in the teaching of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Müller writes in an essay published Thursday in The Pillar Catholic, namely that it is possible for a priest to bless “couples who live in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, including same-sex couples.”
Müller, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from 2012 until 2017, said that no biblical texts or texts of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church or previous magisterial documents “support the conclusions of FS,” which constitutes “not a development but a doctrinal leap.”
The new text directly contradicts the last magisterial pronouncement on this matter, a 2021 document that “categorically rejected the possibility of blessing these unions,” he writes.
To get around the obvious problem of reversing the prior teaching by allowing the blessing of situations that are contrary to the Gospel, the Vatican “proposes an original solution: to broaden the concept of a blessing,” Müller notes.
Yet while the Church can add new sacramentals to existing ones, “she cannot change their meaning in such a way as to trivialize sin, especially in an ideologically charged cultural situation that also misleads the faithful,” he observes.
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“And this change of meaning is precisely what happens in FS, which invents a new category of blessings beyond those associated with either a sacrament or a blessing as the Church has understood them,” he adds.
The new blessings proposed by FS would be pastoral blessings, that could be applied not only to persons in sin, “but also to things, places, or circumstances that are contrary to the Gospel,” he writes.
The Church already allowed a priest to bless someone who lives in sin, but the new “pastoral” blessing would allow for blessing “a reality that is contrary to God’s law, such as an extramarital relationship.
“In fact, according to the criterion of this type of blessings, one could even bless an abortion clinic or a mafia group,” he reasons.
It seems that the innovative pastoral blessing “is created ad hoc to bless situations that are contrary to the law or spirit of the gospel,” he says.
“Notice that not only sinful persons are blessed here, but that by blessing the couple, it is the sinful relationship itself that is blessed,” he underscores.
This leads to the fundamental problem with the new Vatican text, Müller insists, since “God cannot send his grace upon a relationship that is directly opposed to him and cannot be ordered toward him.”
“Sexual intercourse outside of marriage, qua sexual intercourse, cannot bring people closer to God and therefore cannot open itself to God’s blessing,” he explains.
“Therefore, if this blessing were given, its only effect would be to confuse the people who receive it or who attend it,” he warns. “They would think that God has blessed what He cannot bless.”
While one could argue that it is not the union that is blessed, but the couple, such a distinction is meaningless, “since what defines a couple as couple is precisely their being a union.”
Moreover, blessing a reality that is contrary to creation “is not only impossible, it is blasphemy,” he contends.
In asking for a blessing for themselves as a couple, the two “implicitly or explicitly seek to justify their relationship itself before God, without realizing that it is precisely their relationship that distances them from God,” the cardinal adds.
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The defining characteristic of a gay couple is “the sharing of sexual activity,” and this can “in no case can be directed towards God,” he writes.
The new document is, in fact, scandalous, he notes, since it is “precisely the simple people, whom the document wishes to favor by promoting popular piety, who are most susceptible to being deceived by a symbolic deed that contradicts doctrine, since they intuitively grasp the doctrinal content of the deed.”
The only way that a person can accept that it is good to bless gay couples, he concludes, “if one believes that such unions are not objectively contrary to the law of God.”
It follows therefore that teaching of FS is “self-contradictory” and thus requires “further clarification,” he states.