Showing posts with label blessings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blessings. Show all posts

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Schönborn Controversy: How We Can and Cannot Respond

Canon 754: All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.


Cardinal Schönborn issued a public statement (an unofficial translation can be found HERE) the other day that gives the appearance of contradicting the CDF response and commentary on the dubia concerning the blessing of homosexual unions. Given the good relationship between Pope and Cardinal up to this point, many people were startled. Given the fact that certain German bishops are displaying open antipathy for the statements, it is easy to draw the conclusion that this is more of the same.


The circumstances are not identical, however. Cardinal Schönborn was not making an official statement of dissent or schism. He was answering a question from the father of a homosexual son, concerned that the Church was rejecting him. The Cardinal’s response seems aimed at trying to reassure the father. The problem is—barring a clarification or proof of a mistranslation in the various quotes provided—his response does seem to conflict with the CDF statement regardless of his intention.


That is a crucial distinction here. We are forbidden to commit rash judgment or calumny. So, we cannot accuse him of malicious intent over this statement. But, given what the CDF response and commentary have said, we cannot claim that his statement is compatible with them either.


The issue at hand begins with the Cardinal expressing disappointment with the CDF:


I was not happy about this statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the simple reason that the message that came across in the media throughout the world was only a ‘no.’ And that is a ‘no’ to the blessing; and that is something that hurts many people deeply, like they would feel and say: ‘Mother, don’t you have a blessing for me? I am your child too, after all,'


He goes on to say,


If the request for a blessing is honest and not a show, i.e., not a kind of public stunt—if it really is the request of God’s blessing for a life that two people, in whatever situation, are attempting to share—then they should not be refused this blessing.


Even though I as priest or bishop must tell them, “You have not realized the full ideal. But it is important that you continue on the path of human virtue, without which there cannot be a good/successful partnership.” And that deserves a blessing. If a liturgical celebration of a blessing is the proper way to do this—that needs careful consideration.


This understanding is at odds with what the CDF said in their response:


The answer to the proposed dubium does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching. Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God.


This is reinforced in the Commentary:


For the above reasons “the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit”. This statement in no way detracts from the human and Christian consideration in which the Church holds each person. So much so that the response to the dubium “does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching”.


The language used assumes that the individual person with same sex attraction who is seeking the blessing intends to live in fidelity to the revealed plan of God... which a couple (heterosexual or homosexual) in a sexual relationship outside of marriage does not do.


Therefore, we have at least the appearance of public conflict that causes scandal. The faithful can charitably express concern over this… charitably being the key word. Terms like “heretic” and “schismatic” have specific meanings that need to be proven:


Canon 751: Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.


These terms should not be casually thrown about.


One thing we should remember: We will not see the Vatican issue a thundering denunciation of the Cardinal. Even in cases where the CDF does eventually issue a formal condemnation, this comes after years of dialogue and attempts at correction when the person involved refuses correction. There is no evidence that Cardinal Schönborn’s problematic statement was issued in willful and obstinate rejection of the Church.


So, yes, we can and should be troubled by what was said. But no, we cannot make accusations of willful malice against him.