Let’s be honest about Pope Francis and blessing same-sex couples

December 19, 2023 00:32:46
Let’s be honest about Pope Francis and blessing same-sex couples
Crisis Point
Let’s be honest about Pope Francis and blessing same-sex couples

Dec 19 2023 | 00:32:46

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Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

The new Vatican document approving the blessing of same-sex couples has caused a lot of controversy in the Catholic world, and sadly, many Catholics are not being forthright about what the document says.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:16] The new Vatican document approving of the blessing of same sex couples has caused a lot of controversy in the catholic world, and sadly, many Catholics are not being forthright about what the document actually says. That's what we're going to talk about today on Crisis Pointhill. I'm Eric. Sam is your host editor in chief of Crisis magazine. And before I get started, just want to encourage people. Smash that like button. [00:00:40] Subscribe to the channel, let other people know about it. Don't bother hitting the notification bell because you have a life outside the Internet. And don't ever forget that. Also, you can follow us on social media at Crisis Mag to all the various social media channels. [00:00:55] Also, go to crisismagazine.com and subscribe to our newsletter. [00:00:59] You can send questions for the podcast to be answered. You can email to [email protected] and finally, I just want to note that we're in one of our twice a year fundraisers right now, here in December of 2023. We really appreciate everybody who's already given. We really do. I mean, everything we offer here is for free, all our content. And so we appreciate your donations, but we're not yet at our goal, and so we're hoping to meet that before the end of the year. So if you can, please go over to christmagazine.com and click on the donate button, and we'd appreciate it. Okay, enough of the grift, as they say. So as everybody knows in the catholic world knows, yesterday the Vatican released a document which I have here in my hands. [00:01:42] Yes, I'm old enough that I printed it, and it's a declaration on the pastoral meaning of blessings. And really it's about whether or not you can bless couples in an irregular situation and same sex couples. And I wrote an article over at Crisis magazine today. I recommend you go to. It's the top article today. It's the main article for today. And I basically break down what the document says and basically what it really means. [00:02:15] Now, I'm not going to go through that whole thing. You can go read that. But I do want to give my high points, and that is, I saw a theme of the divorce between one idea and another that really should be married together. So, for example, there's three divorces, so to speak, I saw in the document. One is the divorce of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. This is a very common one today, this idea that we can have orthodox beliefs. So I believe in marriage. I believe in the church's teaching on marriage or orthopraxy. Our practice belies that statement. It makes it seem like we don't really believe it. So when we start treating couples that are not in a sacramental marriage in a similar fashion. I'm not saying that that's exactly what this document does fully, but it does undermine the orthodoxy. So we see this divorce between orthopraxy and orthodoxy. Whenever a document, and vatican documents all the time say this lately, whenever a document will emphasize, oh, we believe what the church teaches, we affirm what the church teaches. You know, that soon that later in the documents are going to undermine it. Why else would you do it? They're doing it to undermine it, essentially. So the divorce of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, another divorce, is the divorce of liturgy and life. [00:03:40] There's a lot of words spilled in this document about the fact that we're not talking about a liturgical right here. We forbid liturgical rights rituals with these blessings. [00:03:52] This idea that somehow liturgy is confined to being inside a church or confined to only what the church lays out ritually. [00:04:03] Here's a little secret for you. Liturgy is life. [00:04:09] Our whole lives are liturgy. Liturgy is the public act of worship. And whenever we're out in public, in any public thing we do, we're worshipping God. Now, I understand that there's a more strict definition of liturgy. And it can be used at times. I've used it at times. [00:04:25] But what they're trying to do is they're trying to act like you have this liturgical life over here and completely separate from that as the rest of the world. [00:04:32] But I would argue, and I think this is the catholic understanding of liturgy, that's just not the case. So, for example, if you're an airport, you see a priest, you walk up to him and you say, father, can you give me a blessing that is a liturgical act by that priest? Because he is a priest of the Catholic Church, representing the Catholic Church, he's acting in Persona Christi and he is asking for God to bring down his blessings upon this person. [00:05:00] Two people, public act, a priest of the church doing it. I would argue that's a liturgical act. I know it's not specified in liturgical rubrics and all that necessarily, but it's still part of liturgy. And so this divorce of liturgy and life we find in the document as well. And third, the divorce of moral teaching from pastoral practice. We've seen this all the time. This idea that you have, yes, the church teaches this. This is the ideal. But pastorally we have to do this. And the thing you have to do undermines the moral teaching, here's the truth. [00:05:36] Pastoral practice, good pastoral practice, always upholds the morality, the moral teachings. It never does anything to undermine it. Because why? Because following the moral teachings is the best way to live. It's the most fulfilling way to live, and it's the way that God wants us to live. And so therefore it's pastoral, because all pastoral is, pastoral isn't. [00:06:01] I'm going to give the person what they want. That's what we think it is. Pastoral is I'm going to lead the person to God as a pastor. [00:06:11] That's the reason for the word. A pastor leads people to God. [00:06:17] And so to be pastoral is to lead them to the moral teachings of the church, not to undermine them. Okay, so that's kind of the point I was making in my article. Again, I just asked, you read, I'm breaking down basically the document and I'm explaining certain points of it, a couple of other things, and I'm going to talk more in this podcast about kind of the reaction to it and that, but I think we should cover some of these overall points. The biggest controversy, I think, that you see in the interpretation of this document is, is it talking just about blessing individuals or is it talking about blessing unions? [00:06:58] Well, relationships. Well, the answer is kind of neither. It's talking about blessing couples. It specifically uses the term couples. It does not talk about blessing individuals. So when people say to you, oh, it's just mentioning, it's just blessing individuals, the church has always done that. It's always blessed individual sinners. That's not what they're saying, though. In fact, the very fact that they have all these sections at the beginning talking about marriage and how we're not talking about marriage here tells you they're talking about couples. Because if it was just about blessing individuals, it's irrelevant to bring up the church's teaching on marriage. Clearly, it's saying we're talking about relations, relationships that some people compare to marriage, or at least they can be compared to marriage on some level. Because what you have is in a marriage, most fundamentally in the eyes of the world, a romantic relationship between two people. We, of course, as Catholics know it's so much more than that. But that's fundamentally, you have this relationship between two people of a sexual nature, too. [00:08:06] These couples that they're talking about in irregular situations and same sex couples, clearly it's a relationship that's of a sexual nature. And if it's a sexual relationship that's outside of marriage, therefore it's by definition sinful in paragraph 31. I mean, the whole section three is called. This is why I think it's hilarious that you would say it's only about blessing individuals. Literally entire section is titled blessings of couples in irregular situations and of couples of the same sex. [00:08:40] It doesn't say blessings of individuals who happen to be in a same sex relationship. It's of the couple. [00:08:48] And that's exactly what it talks about. It says the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex. Again, let's just be clear about irregular situations. That means sinful situations. That means immoral situations, because the only relationship a couple can have, and remember again, couple in this context is talking about two people in a sexual relationship. [00:09:16] It makes no sense. The whole document makes no sense if that's not how you define couple. [00:09:22] And any couple in a sexual relationship that is not a married, truly married man and a woman, as the catholic definition of marriage, therefore, is a sinful relationship. So that's what they're talking about is these things. So the idea that it's just a union now, just individuals now, some people are trying to talk about the specifics of, okay, they mentioned couples, but that's not relationships or that's not a union. They're not blessing unions. I get that. They're saying that Fernandez and therefore Pope Francis is saying that we're not doing a blessing of a union in the sense of like a marriage ceremony where you're blessing the beginning of the union, you're giving some prayer. I get that. I know it's not saying that. It's not saying we approve of gay marriage and all that stuff. Actually, I don't think anybody's even claiming it does. [00:10:13] But I think we're getting into semantics of reading what we want to read. When it talks about couples in irregular situations and couples, same sex couples, it's talking about couples in a sexual relationship, a relationship. [00:10:26] Now, whether or not that union is something that they're claiming is a marital union, that's kind of the individual couple. Because there's a lot of couples who live together who don't even claim to be married because they fall under irregular situations. So if you have two people shacking up, they've never been married and they want a blessing that is allowed now by this document because that's an irregular situation. Because they don't define irregular situation. It's very specific. So I mean, honestly, if a married man and his mistress go up to a priest and want a blessing, that's allowed under this document, because that's an irregular situation. And people say, oh, that's crazy. [00:11:08] I'm just reading what it says. [00:11:13] When they talk about irregular situations, that's what they're talking about is situations in which a couple is in a romantic sexual relationship that is not marriage. [00:11:25] So I think they are also kind of purposely making it confusing Fernandez and the pope by talking only about couples. But ultimately, this is not about blessing individuals. If a man in a homosexual relationship goes up to a priest and asks for a blessing, of course he can give that person a blessing. He's calling upon God to bless him and do all this. And that blessing would hopefully pull him out of that relationship. [00:11:50] But if he's going and asking for a relationship as a couple, he's asking for a blessing of the couple. He's asking for a blessing on in a moral situation. [00:12:02] It's like if I'm getting ready to go rob a bank and I say to the father, Father, can you bless me in my endeavor of robbing this bank? [00:12:11] No, he can't bless that. [00:12:14] He doesn't know I'm going to go rob a bank. And I just say, father, give me a blessing. He's going to give me a blessing. Of course, God knows it's not of the bank, of robbing the bank. [00:12:25] A lot of the confusion is like everybody's interpreting this in different ways. How do we know what they actually mean? I think it's very obvious, but I know people, Catholics, good natured goodwill, Catholics who would disagree with my interpretation of it. I get that. I think what you do in this situation, you look to somebody who is considered by the Vatican itself as kind of the expert in this area, as a prominent spokesperson of what they're talking about, as somebody they have elevated to a position of prominence that they have made clear here is a person that we support the way this person works in this area. [00:13:09] And in the case of blessings for same sex couples, that is none other than Father James Martin. I don't know how anybody could claim it's anybody else. Father James Martin has been pushing for this and more for a very long time. He has been great prominence by the Vatican itself. They appoint him, I think, as a consultant of the diaspora on communications or something like that. He's had many meetings with the pope that has been very prominent. I mean, the pope won't meet with Cardinal Burke or somebody like Bishop Strickland probably, or anybody like that, but he often meets with Father James Martin. Father James Martin was appointed by the pope to be at the synod, the recent synod. So I think what we do is we look at how Father James Martin interprets it and say that's the mind of Pope Francis. I think that's the honest thing to do. [00:14:02] And just go on twitter and look at what Father James Martin said. He knows that this is a blessing of the couple, a blessing of the union, essentially, in so many words. [00:14:12] And he sees it as a huge step, as a big change. So people are saying it's not a change. [00:14:18] I would just say Father James Martin is saying it is. He's been the person that the pope and the Vaticans look to as an expert in this area. So unless they come out and correct Father James Martin, then I think we go with him. And I don't think you can. [00:14:34] Oh, well, they wouldn't correct him or something like that. They obviously correct bishops and priests they think are doing the wrong thing. Look at what they did to Strickland and Burke. So unless there's some type of punishment or correction coming from Father James Martin, and if they do that, if they come out, if Fernandez comes out and say no, Father James Martin is wrong, how he's interpreting this, I'll stand corrected. I'll say, ok, but I think we know what's going to happen. [00:14:58] So ultimately, when these controversial documents come out, and I think we see that, it's like you can predict exactly what the reaction is going to be when these Francis documents come out. The progressives say, yes, yay, we got what we wanted. [00:15:15] The traditionalists say, oh, crap, they got what they wanted. [00:15:20] And then you have the pope splainers, mostly the conservative pope explainers who say, no, you're all wrong. [00:15:27] Everybody, the progressives, the trans, they're all wrong. It doesn't say what everybody else is saying. It says, it actually says what the church has always taught and there's no changes whatsoever. [00:15:38] And that's kind of what you get. And I kind of want to explore for a moment what the problem with the pope splainers. And this is a term that kind of is a term of derision. I get, I don't like to use terms of derision too much. I feel like it's pretty accurate. Hyperpapalist. I mean, I give Michael Lofton credit. He had a t shirt on or sweatshirt on, on his podcast. It said Pope Splainer. I mean, God bless him, he owns it. And I respect that. I respect that. I don't actually mean it. I know it sounds very demeaning. I actually just mean it. Like these are people who always want to explain what the pope says. And what it really means. And it's always saying it never is critical of what Francis is saying. [00:16:25] I would argue that they're not listening to them. I would argue they're simply not listening. They're afraid, to be honest, I think there's a lot of fear with the pope splainers. There's a lot of fear. The fear is that, and I say this, I'm talking about the good nature, goodwilled people who are trying to give an orthodox spin to this document and to other things. [00:16:50] I think I'm talking about the good natured ones, not the ones who are just ideological, political, or something like that. I mean the ones who are like faithful Catholics trying to understand the crisis today. And their way of doing is to always explain what Francis says in a manner they think is fitting with tradition, with orthodoxy. I think honestly they're afraid, though, to be honest, because they're afraid that if Francis is saying things that is contrary to orthodoxy, contrary to tradition, it will hurt the church, it will hurt the papacy. They're also afraid that if they acknowledge that Francis is saying something untrue or harmful for souls, they're not being good Catholics. After all. What Catholic wants to be being contrary to the pope, what Catholic wants to be against what the pope says. None of us want to be like that. [00:17:44] And I think ultimately they're afraid about something else. [00:17:47] I think they're afraid that they may be wrong about the church itself, that everything they believe, their whole life is set up on the church. And if Pope Francis really is saying these false things and their form of Catholicism does not allow for that, then the whole house of cards falls apart. [00:18:10] And that's a real fear. And that's something that we should be sympathetic to at least. Nobody wants their faith demolished. Nobody wants that to happen. And so what they do is they create these bars of what we have to do when we get something from the pope, some teaching from the pope, I see two of them, most commonly. One is we must interpret any Vatican document in the most orthodox manner possible. You hear this, someone on Twitter is talking to me about this. By the way, I'm not huge on Twitter anymore, like all the time, but yesterday I gave a lot of takes on Twitter about this document. So if you want to just go to Twitter and find me Eric R. Samoons at Eric R. Salmons or X or whatever it's called, go ahead and do that. But I saw a number of people talk about we have to interpret it and we're obligated to interpret in the most orthodox manner. Possible. [00:19:07] And I would say, no, we're not. No, we're not. That's a modern idea that is based upon the fact that we've had so much discontinuity with what is being taught by the Vatican, with what has been taught in the past, that we feel like, okay, we've got to find some way to interpret this. And I will know a lot of this comes from Pope Benedict, who wanted to do this, Vatican II, and with some other teachings and things like that. [00:19:35] I do not believe we are obligated, because I don't think that is charity. I think charity is being very honest and being very direct and very clear. And if somebody says something, if somebody walks up to me and says, I want to kill you, I don't say, well, I need to interpret that in the most orthodox or most charitable light possible. What he really means is he doesn't really like the way I'm acting, and he wants that to stop. And I'm not being a good person. He wants that man of me to die. Whatever. I mean, you're making things up. He's made it very plain what he wants. Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernandez made very plain what they want in this document. It's not that confusing. [00:20:20] We need to just take their word for it. That's what's charitable, is to take their word for it. We need to read it like normal people do. Here's the other problem. [00:20:29] The pope's planners do so many mental gymnastics when they try to read it in the most orthodox light possible, that they're basically making it impossible to really talk to normal people. Because when a normal person reads this, they just say, oh, they think it's okay now to bless homosexual couples. [00:20:49] All the headlines in secular media yesterday, they were all right. People were like, all the media, liberal media or whatever, they all said, pope approves blessing of same sex couples. That's exactly what he did. That's how normal people read it, because they're normal people. They're not trying to do mental gymnastics. And so when we do and we tell them, no, you're wrong. That's not what it means. It really means x, y, and z. Because this, this net, I just feel like we're losing them because they're just like, sorry, dude, that sounds like cult like talk to me. [00:21:23] Because it just obviously says this. And now you're saying, it doesn't say this, but my own eyes tell me it says this. [00:21:32] And so I don't think we're under an obligation to interpret it in the most orthodox fashion. Possible, because I think what that does is it assumes that it has to be orthodox, and it doesn't. The church has never taught that every vatican document has to be orthodox. It just doesn't. [00:21:53] Most are, in a lot of ways, many have maybe minor problems in them throughout the years, and some are just completely awful, like this one, and there's no real redeeming value to them. [00:22:08] And I think we just have to be bluntly honest about that. Another argument you'll hear from the pope splainers is this idea about, well, we have to have a religious submission of mind and will to the magisterium, to the papal magisterium, to the ordinary magisterium, even when it's in the non infallible aspects. [00:22:27] This is from Lumen Gensium 25, from Vatican two. Also, it's been mentioned in other places. This idea that we have to have this religious submission of mind and will. Okay, granting that, I would just say we have a fundamental misunderstanding what religious submission of mind and will is. I tweeted this on. Actually, I mentioned the article, I think I also tweeted that I wrote, there's a great article from a few years ago by Dr. Jeremy Holmes at catholic report where he talks in detail about what does that mean? And essentially, we can look at it like this. [00:23:00] When it comes to an infallible teaching of church, I-E-A exercise of the magisterium, that's infallible. Ex Cathara statement, a council document that's exercising its office to speak infallibly in those things. We have to accept them, we have to believe them, and we know it with certainty. So if the church teaches the God has three persons, Father, son, Holy Spirit, we know that's true. [00:23:28] However, when the church exercises its ordinary magisterium, when it exercises its non infallible magisterium, then that's what we give religious mission of mind and will in. But it's only our opinion. We think it's true because the church has taught it, but because it's non infallible, by definition, that means it could have an error. [00:23:51] Therefore, we can't say we know it is true. We just like, I assume, kind of, it's true. But if there is a strong reason to believe that it's not, and the reason is, is because it contradicts previous teachings of the church, past traditional teaching of church, then we can say, no, I do not accept this, because you know what we're doing? We're giving religious submission of mind and will to all the other teachings of church. Because here's the thing people act like, you just give your religious submission of mind and will to today's teaching. Okay, whatever the pope said today, that's what I'm giving religious submission mind and will to. No, as a Catholic, you're giving religious submission, mind and will to the entirety of catholic teaching. And so if a pope or a Vatican office or whatever says something that clearly contradicts what the church has always taught in either orthodoxy or orthopraxy, then you are absolutely right and you are obligated to say, no, I don't accept that as true. [00:24:59] And so otherwise, if that wasn't the case, we literally are treating the pope as a divine oracle, just somebody whose words are true because he said them. That is not catholic teaching. [00:25:13] That is not catholic teaching. And so even though this is a declaration from the Vatican, from the DDF with Pope Francis's approval, that in and of itself does not make it true. [00:25:26] Even going beyond truth or not, it doesn't make it prudent because I'm not claiming that this document, by the way, has heresy in it. What I'm saying is it is a mumbled nonsense about what blessings are and it accepts a lot of falsehoods in its assumptions and it undermines orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And so for the postsplainers who are afraid that if they just come out and say, no, this isn't orthodox, it undermines orthodoxy, it advocates for, against orthopraxy. [00:26:13] That if I say that somehow I'm not a good Catholic or somehow I'm undermining the church, what you're doing is you're actually undermining the church and the papacy by not saying that, because you're undermining 2000 years, the foundations of the church to say, okay, this one I'm going to accept because I have to. [00:26:35] And so I really do understand pope splainers that are good natured, they're trying to make sense of all this. We all are. It's a difficult time to be catholic. I mean, let's be honest, what Pope splainers are trying to do, they're trying to make it easy. [00:26:53] The problem is, and they're doing it to try to keep people from leaving the church. God bless them. God bless anybody who's trying to keep people from leaving the church. We have millions of people leaving the church every year. God bless everybody who's making an attempt to make that stop, to stop the bleeding. [00:27:10] The problem is that they're trying to make it easier to be a Catholic. But the reality is it's hard to be a catholic today. [00:27:19] And by minimizing or denying scandal, you're basically being dishonest. You might not intend to, but that's what you're being. [00:27:31] You're laying out an easy but dishonest path, rather than the hard but honest path. The path of the catholic today is the cross. And I have become convinced, and this is something I've become convinced over the past few months, that Pope Francis is a gift to the church because he is our cross, he is our testing, our time of testing, that God is giving us to test our faithfulness, frankly, because I believe that what we've done is we've created a lot of man made traditions around the divine revelation about Christ's promises to the church and to the papacy. [00:28:12] And what happens is, when Pope Francis does something, scandals like this, it attacks those man made traditions, but we've turned them into divine revelation. And that's why we're so upset, and that's why we want to say, no, he didn't actually do that. The fact is, he did do that, and it does contradict some of our man made traditions that surround the divine revelation of Jesus Christ about the church and about the papacy. [00:28:41] So all these things he does are scandalous. They lead souls astray. They're bad. All that. I get all that, but they're not break the bank bad. What I mean by that, they don't invalidate Christ's promises to the church. They just simply break. Invalidate some of those man made traditions that surround those promises. And I think that's a good thing. I mean, our Lord, that was one of the things that he talked about a lot, was he was against manmade traditions. Our protestant friends tell us that he's against all tradition. We know that's not true. What he's against is those man made traditions that obscure the truth, obscure the true tradition. And I think that's what we've done, many Catholics have done in our elevation of the papacy beyond all reason. [00:29:27] We've done that. And so what we need to do, then, as Catholics, and I'll kind of wrap it up here, we need to remain faithful to the promises of Jesus Christ, the actual promises of Jesus Christ, not to the man made traditions. We have to be faithful to what the church is always taught. And so, for example, we know that there can be no wink and a nod at same sex couples. It is a sinful relationship that is harmful for the participants. That's the key, the most loving thing to tell a person in a same sex relationship is that. That is harmful for your soul, it's harmful for your body, it's harmful for your spirit, your mind, your psyche, every bit of you, it's harmful for you. [00:30:18] And if we give a blessing to that, and again, it's a blessing to the couple, then what we're doing is we're saying, no, our actions are saying the words that they're hearing, which is, this is actually not harmful to you. I get that. Know, and Francis say all these words in their huge word salad that claims that's not what they're saying, but that is what it's saying. That's what's saying to anybody with a brain that is listening. [00:30:46] And so we have to remain faithful to the deposit of faith, even when the pope himself is undermining it. It does not invalidate the faith in any way to say, we have a terrible pope right now. I'm sorry, we've had bad popes in the past. We have a bad pope now, and he's doing things that are harmful for souls. So what we need to do as Catholics, we need to pray. Pray for Pope Francis, pray for his conversion. [00:31:14] Pray for Cardinal Fernandez and everybody involved in this, somebody like Father James Martin. Pray for our friends who are the pope splainers that they would understand that they need to defend the eternal truth. Not men. Not men like Cardinal Fernandez or men like Pope Francis. What they need to defend is the truth. The church, the office, the papacy, not necessarily the man who is pope right now. So we should pray and fast. Also, I feel like for some reason, some of this bad news drops right before Christmas. I don't know if it's on purpose. Maybe they know that pastors aren't going to be preaching against this weekend because it's going to be Christmas Eve and Christmas, and they're going to be talking about our Lord's birth. But I think we need to do is try to remember what season it is. The advent. Let's prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ in our hearts, in the world, that he would reign again, that he would reign in this world. That's what we have to do right now. So if somebody brings this up to you. Yes. Explain to them why it's wrong and why that does not invalidate the promises of Jesus Christ to his church, to the catholic church. But also, let's keep the focus on what matters the most, and that is Jesus Christ and his coming. [00:32:30] Okay, I think I'll wrap it up there. Until next time, everybody. God love.

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