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A few months ago, I predicted that the Francis pontificate would seek to establish cordial relations with the Rainbow Reich. (See “While We’re At It,” January 2024, composed late November 2023.) In mid-December the Vatican issued the declaration Fiducia Supplicans, vindicating my assessment of the present regime in Rome. The document provides urgent restatements of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual morality, which of course proscribe gay unions and gay sex. But Fiducia Supplicans advertises itself as a “specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings.” Its purportedly groundbreaking insights allow the “non-ritualized” blessing of couples in “irregular situations,” a category that includes gay couples. In intent and effect, the new teaching offers a fig leaf to the sexual revolution.

Viewed in terms of the history of moral theology, the teachings of Fiducia Supplicans on priestly blessings recapitulate the perennial debate between rigorism and probabilism, although in a muddy, pastoral way. Under this framework, the document admits of a narrow reading that minimizes (or even eliminates) any suggestion of changes in the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage and sexual morality. Cardinal Müller makes a good case that, even read charitably, Fiducia Supplicans goes beyond probabilism into error. I agree, but my point is different. Whatever one’s assessment of the finer points of moral theology, the notion that nothing important is changed by Fiducia Supplicans ignores ecclesial and social realities.

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