An organisation representing some 500 priests in Britain has released a signed letter reaffirming the Church’s teaching regarding marriage and same-sex unions after “widespread confusion” following the Fiducia Supplicans declaration released by the Vatican.
The letter’s signatories at the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy explain they felt “impelled to re-assert the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church…which remains unchanged and unchangeable”.
The Confraternity’s response follows Fiducia Supplicans giving guidance on same-sex “couples” receiving “spontaneous” blessings which, the declaration insisted, must not convey a validation of “their status” or anything contrary to the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.
However, the British clergy reply: “we see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval”.
They conclude “such pastoral blessings are pastorally and practically inadmissable”.
Unlike a similar 2015 Confraternity letter released and published in the Catholic Herald in response to the family synod, this time the organisation is not releasing a list of all involved because collecting signatory names “takes weeks”, the Catholic Herald was told.
Instead, the Confraternity chose to swiftly release an agreed statement, which follows similar actions by the US’s Bishop Barron and bishops’ conferences in Nigeria and Malawi.
Full text of the letter:
The British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, responding to widespread confusion over Catholic doctrine on same-sex unions and sexual behaviour outside of marriage, feel impelled to re-assert the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church) which remains unchanged and unchangeable.
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and a woman has been established.
It is in this context that we must assess the recent document Fiducia Supplicans – which proposes a call for discernment which may lead to bestowing blessings on those in same-sex or unmarried unions. We note the noble pastoral desire to assist people to move forward by renewal of life and the call to conversion, building on all aspects of natural good will and virtue. Nevertheless, we see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval. Thus, it would inevitably lead to scandal – to the individuals concerned – to those involved directly or indirectly in the blessing – or to the minister himself. Furthermore, we fear that the practice of these blessings would confuse the faithful over the actual theology of marriage and human sexuality. Indeed, from the comments in the media over the past few days, and from concerns passed on to us by the faithful, we can already see such misunderstandings. We believe that genuine charity always follows true doctrine and that such blessings would work against the legitimate care a priest owes is flock. With honest parresia and from our own experience as pastors we conclude that such blessings are pastorally and practically inadmissable.