The much anticipated “Synod on Synodality” opened Wednesday in Rome, but the headlines exploded on Monday when a group of five cardinals published their private correspondence with Pope Francis. Their letter expressed concerns about the synodal agenda and asked for clarification on certain controversial issues, one being the question of same-sex “marriage” ceremonies. The pope’s answer was long-winded, as usual, but the crux of it comes down to this paragraph:
e) For this reason, pastoral prudence 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. —Pope Francis on same-sex blessings
With these lines, the pope has been widely interpreted to be allowing same-sex “marriage” blessings as long as no one calls it a “marriage.” The first thing I want to say about this is that Dennis Knapp at The Latin Right blog here at Patheos has done an excellent job of reporting this news. I recommend reading his analysis. I don’t want to rehash what Knapp has already covered, so I’m going to focus on just one point not already covered.
1.) The Cardinals Don’t Believe Pope Francis
The point I want to make is that the cardinals who asked these questions don’t trust Pope Francis. The Edward Pentin article I linked to, above, shows that they sent the pope a second set of questions because they didn’t like his answers. They accused him of dodging the questions:
“Your answers have not resolved the doubts we had raised, but have, if anything, deepened them….”
So, what’s not to believe? “Pastoral prudence,” for starters. Pope Francis uses the phrase at least a couple of times. The term “pastoral” in the context of these debates is used by modernists to assure conservatives that doctrine isn’t being touched. Doctrine can’t change, but pastoral approaches can. So Francis is telling the cardinals that any acceptance of same-sex blessings doesn’t imply any doctrinal change on homosexuality. But the cardinals don’t believe him. The proof that the cardinals don’t believe Francis on this score can be found in the first question they asked. I’ll summarize the wordy question. All quotes come from Edward Pentin:
Is teaching from Divine Revelation (the Bible) immutable, or can it be changed or reversed in light of new scientific research (“anthropology”)?
The cardinals explain in their letter to the pope why they are asking the question. It’s because bishops and clergy are making such claims, and the pope has never corrected them. The German bishops, for instance, are claiming that modern science has shown that Church teaching on homosexuality is wrong. The Germans are claiming, in effect, that the Bible is wrong and science is right. In other words:
GOD GOT HOMOSEXUALITY ALL WRONG!
It should be obvious why such a position would be problematic for the Catholic Church. Many Church authorities have rightly criticized the German heresies. But not a word of condemnation from our pope. Why not? The cardinals are explicitly calling out the pope for not correcting the Germans.
Amoris Laetitia—Smoking Gun
Today, many suspect that Pope Francis agrees with the Germans and wants to see doctrinal change on homosexuality. And there’s good reason for thinking this. For one, the Germans, themselves, claim that the Francis document Amoris Laetitia justifies their plan to change Church doctrine on homosexuality. My previous article agrees with the Germans about Amoris Laetitia, and I recommend that you take a look at it.
If It Walks Like a Marriage and It Quacks Like a Marriage…
I’ve previously made the case in a book and in many articles and interviews that Pope Francis agrees with the German heresies on homosexuality. And that, really, is the best and most logical explanation for why Francis is now allowing blessings for same-sex couples. If it’s doctrinal change that Francis is after, then he is, essentially, giving his blessing to same-sex “marriage.”
And let’s consider for a moment what these blessings will end up looking like. They will be performed by a Catholic priest in a church before 200 guests. There will be music and flowers and flower girls. And rings will be exchanged and blessed. Moreover, the same-sex couple will certainly be applying for a marriage license from their state, which will certainly recognize the event as a valid marriage ceremony. Most people will, in fact, call that a marriage ceremony. Certainly the German bishops will. And probably Pope Francis as well. Certainly.