Father Christian Olding blesses a same-sex couple during the “Love Wins” Ceremony at St. Martin's Church in Geldern, Germany, on May 6, 2021. The Fiducia supplicans Trust Reiterates the Prohibition of Blessings of This Kind. Photo: OSV News/KNA/Rudolf Wichert.

For A Geo-Pastoral and Synodal Reading of Fiducia Supplicans

(ZENIT News – Caffe Storia / Roma, 23.01.2024).- In a time of wounds, outside and inside the Church, where the scouge of power and sexual abuses continues without being resolved, the homosexual issue is at the centner of ecclesial urgency. An issue on […]

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(ZENIT News – Caffe Storia / Roma, 23.01.2024).- In a time of wounds, outside and inside the Church, where the scouge of power and sexual abuses continues without being resolved, the homosexual issue is at the centner of ecclesial urgency. An issue on which the Church has decided to spend, for good or bad, her commitment and credibility of a new face. Also in connection with this issue, the recent Synod of Bishops made an appeal “to invest the best energies in it.”

Blessing of Couples

Except for prejudiced ideological positions, what has stirred doubts in a great part of the Catholic community is not the known evidence that God’s love is directed to every person, heterosexual or homosexual, holy or sinful, as every man and woman of this world. All the more so in as much as “the individual that asks for a blessing — not absolution — can be a great sinner, but we do not deny him this fatherly gesture in the midst of his struggle to survive,” said Cardinal Fernández.

Rather, what makes more than an alarm to go off is the risk of a legitimization (badly understood?) of the “blessings of couples”: thus mentioned in Fiducia Supplicans, and, in addition, in the subsequent clarifying press release, is the distinction is made between blessings “of a person or of a couple.”

A guarantee that, if it turns out to be real, would refer to a status of life that traditionally has been indicated to us as irregular (not to prohibit us but for our own good, it’s good to point out) all but limited to homosexual couples. However, at the same time an endorsement  — it must be underscored — that the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans denies black on white, although perhaps it enables one to understand it between the lines.


The urgency of legitimization, beyond particular cases, seems, rather, to be fruit of one’s own interest and consequence of the gender and woke ideology on the Church, as has already happened in the political agenda of different States and international bodies, in other Christian and non-Christian Confessions , in cultural and cinematographic production, and in styles of communication. At the risk, in many cases, of retreating in face of the disaster of a badly dissimulated totalitarianism.

And, in view of the reactions of the last weeks, that the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans has “touched a very delicate, very sensitive point,” as the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, is almost a euphemism. However, is the delicate point really — only — the homosexual question? Rather, what seems to be questioned are two much broader and different ambits.

The first is a different anthropological vision that, however, it would be reductive to attribute only to an opposition between the homologized Western culture and the multiple cultures of the African Continent, or a “rebellion” of Pope Francis’ much loved peripheries. The geo-pastoral aspect of Fiducia Supplicans is much more complex and delicate, all the more so in as much as to judge, from what has been manifested since the publication of the Declaration, it’s not only Africa that has adopted a critical position.

Together with the numerous national Episcopal Conferences of the African Continent, which have also reached a common synthesis, the fact must be considered of the no less clear opposition of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholici Church, already confronted with Pope Francis over the known “equivocation” with the parties in conflict, as well as numerous Bishops of Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and more isolated cases in France, Spain and the United States.


The second raw nerve resides in the space that one is really willing to grant synodality in the Church. In this connection, it’s natural to look at the recent 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” the so-called “Synod on Synodality.” Only 51 days separate the publication of the Synthesis Report  of the Synod’s first session (October 28, 2023) from the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans (December 18, 2023).

“Some questions, such as those related with gender identity and sexual orientation [. . . ] are controversial, not only in the society but also in the Church, because they pose new questions. Sometimes, the anthropological categories that we have developed are not sufficient to understand the complexity [. . . ]. Many indications are already offered by the Magisterium and hope to be translated into appropriate  pastoral initiatives, reads the Synthesis  (15, g). Was Fiducia Supplicans already perceived? However, no reference is made in the whole document to the situation of irregular heterosexual or homosexual couples, already considered divisive. “In different ways, people that feel marginalized or excluded  from the Church because of their conjugal situation, their identity and their sexuality also asked to be heard and accompanied, and that their dignity be defended.  [. . . ] To listen is a prior requisite to walk together in search of the Will of God” (16, h).

Synodality and Path: A Latin Answer to the German Church?

After the closing of the first session of the Synod, the progressive wings of some Western Churches  have not concealed their frustration. Perhaps even because of the method itself of synodality, which runs the risk of really giving voice  (and weight) to the whole universal Church, and not only to her more noisy and rich regions. Some circles of the German Church, for example, have never concealed that they felt “hostages” of the traditionalism, cultural and ecclesial, of the Catholic Church that lives in Africa.

Accepting the reading offered by Cardinal Fernández as good, who sees in Fiducia Supplicans  a “clear answer” to the requests of the Church in Germany, the Declaration should be interpreted in a restrictive sense, in its reaffirmation of the prohibition of public and ritualized blessings of couples in an irregular situation, which some Bishops and not a few priests had already ventured in the churches. Moreover, the enthusiastic reaction of the German Church attests clearly how the reception of the document — what was not written, the meta-text, the instrumentalization? — has far surpassed the official wording, to the point of total subversion.

The most tragic necessity of dialogue seems to have taken, prophetically, the Church in the long wave of the Synod on Synodality. Not to grant appropriate space to the inter- and intra-ecclesial confrontation, or, worse yet, to ignore the contribution that can come from all the Churches, reducing it to a problem of “context” and of “cultural questions,” which must be overcome with “pastoral caution” and never with “a total or definitive negation of this path,” runs the risk of being translated into a form of “ideological colonization,” — the same condemned repeatedly by Pope Francis outside the Church.


Translation of the Italian original into Spanish by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester.

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Simone Varisco

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