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Priests Cannot Bless Sin

The news has been on fire with the fact that certain German Catholic priests plan to bless same-sex couples on May 10 in defiance of the Vatican decree against it. What exactly does it mean for a priest to bless these couples?  The priest in his very person is an icon for Christ and for his saving activity or ministry in the Church.  It is for this reason that he is forbidden to be present as a witness at marriages not condone as licit and valid.  His very presence signifies approbation or authorization.  Priests can bless persons, places or things.  The word “blessing” can mean many things, but always it signifies divine favor and protection.  What is the statement being made?  What is the spiritual effect of such a blessing or is this merely a political statement.  Certainly we want to elevate the dignity of others as persons with value and rights.  However, can a priest truly bless that which is objectively regarded as wrong and sinful?  Would not such an attempted benediction signify a blasphemy and sacrilege?  When general blessings are given, a priest incurs no culpability if some should lack the correct disposition.  However, the person who dissents and wants his or her wrong labeled as virtuous or a right likely incurs judgment for mortal sin.  If a priest deliberately seeks to bless that which is offensive to God then that priest becomes a broken sign and is personally convicted before the Lord.  Is not the prohibition against blessing same-sex unions more than a disciplinary decree but rather reflective of the Church’s fidelity to the commandments and the moral law?  Maybe we should be more concerned about the formation and inner dissent of these priests than anything, no matter how problematical, they threaten to carry out?  The mind of Christ is also that of the Church.  The compassion of Jesus sometimes embraces a tough love.    

The statement from the dissenting German priests cannot be allowed to stand without consequences.  It is a dare to the universal Church: 

“In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship.  We do not refuse a blessing ceremony. We do this in our responsibility as pastors, who promise people at important moments in their lives the blessings that God alone gives. We respect and value their love, and we also believe that God’s blessings are on them.”

Perhaps it is due to the heightened eroticism of our times, but I would fault these shepherds for buying into the notion of transitive gender and deviant sexual intimacy as signposts to personal identity and expressive of genuine love.  As I have written before, the Church would have little concern if such people would broaden their identity beyond any disorientation and commit themselves to a celibate brotherly and sisterly love.  No matter what they want or how hard they try, priests cannot in truth extend the benediction of Christ and his Church over sodomy and equivalent sins.      

The statement from these dissenting clergy speaks not simply to errors in their thinking but also to a heresy of the heart.  They write: 

“Theological arguments and knowledge gained are sufficiently exchanged. We do not accept that an exclusive and outdated sexual morality is carried out on the back of people and undermines our work in pastoral care.” 

Their general assumption is that the Scriptures, our appreciation of natural law and Church moral teaching are wrong.  This is an affront to the Holy Father and the Magisterium over faith and morals.  They have made up their minds.  They buy into the notion that modernity is better attuned to the truth than ancient teachings from faith.  They make themselves the slaves to fashion and fad and cease being sentinels of Christ and signs of contradiction to an unbelieving world.  It is no wonder they have so few conversions to faith because the world has converted them.  No, we are not morally better today.  Indeed, there is a satanic veil that covers the consciences of many so that the truth about the sanctity of life and the dignity of persons cannot be easily discerned.  They wrongly argue that human nature has evolved or changed so that answers from the past are now outmoded and needlessly burdensome.  They are saying that the Church has been wrong for 2,000 years and now they are an enlightened few that can dictate to the rest of the Church.  Note the use of the word “exclusive,” meaning that they reject any form of universal truth or morality— collapsing entirely to a capricious moral code and relativity.

What the organizer Klaus Nelissen says is utter nonsense.  He states, that since Monday is traditionally a day off for priests, “No bishop can tell them not to do it, since they are doing it on their own time.” He speaks about the priesthood as one might a 9 to 5 job.  The vocation of priesthood never lets a man off— he is a priest 24 hours a day, every day— it is who he is.  He has vowed obedience to his bishop and the Holy See.  If Nelissen is a priest, I would urge censure and immediate evaluation of his fitness for priestly ministry. 

The Vatican is clear.  Pope Francis has tried to reconcile with the gay community but about the blessing of same-sex unions, he is adamant:  the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “does not and cannot bless sin.” Such unions even if recognized by the state cannot be blessed by the Church. The Vatican statement asserted, “For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”

4 Responses

  1. The Catholic priesthood is a matter of being – not, primarily, of doing. Certain men “priest” as a result of being priests. Just as certain women “mother” as a result of being mothers.

    STM that the traditional teaching on the Catholic Priesthood needs to be made very explicit, & clear, and that it needs, all of it, to be explained with crystal clarity.

    Something that has long bothered me about LGBT utterances and writings, is what seems to be the complete absence of any reference to Christian holiness, and to growth in it. The rational defences of the moral validity & defencibilty of same-sex unions are completely worthless. if they do not explain how SSUs help to foster growth in Christian holiness. IOW, SSUs seem to be defended *as though* life in Christ were nothing but the following of a this-worldly moral code. To say that life in Christ is far more than that, is a grotesque understatement.


    FATHER JOE: A few years back I had remarked about your personal attacks against me and your general belligerence. I banned you from my site. Hoping you had grown up, I allowed you to post again. I was wrong. Nothing has changed. You do not come here to question or to discuss civilly. You come here to poison the water. I cannot say whether you are not well or just happen to be a bad person. Either way, I will keep you in prayer. Good bye.

  3. Your concern and extensive comments on this issue have an air of “the lady doth protest too much”. Perhaps you might spend some time examining your conscience and, instead of polemicizing, deal with your own unresolved issues around homosexuality.

    FATHER JOE: I suspect that you are the one who would target right-thinking priests so as to excuse your own failure to face in conscience the disorientation of homosexuality and the sinfulness of intimate sexual acts stemming from it. Further, “the lady doth protest too much” only in reference to trivialities and matters beyond her learning. Such is not the case here as there is no more serious matter than mortal sin as it casts the soul in hell. The obligation of the priest is to embrace the truth as given him by Scripture and the faith of the Church so that he might faithfully minister to the flock of Christ. It is the “business” of every priest to speak about Christian faith and values; when people fall short in their witness, he is empowered to forgive sins and to offer the healing of Christ. Silence about such issues would be a failure to love, literally saying that he does not care or want to get involved. Those who would bless same-sex unions, as Pope Frances has stated, are complicit in the sin of others. The errant priests should receive not only rebuke from the Vatican but fraternal correction from their many other brothers of the presbyterate. This matter evidently upsets you a great deal on a personal level. Instead of attacking the messenger, I would urge you to give assent to Christian moral teaching and then with a contrite heart go to a faithful priest for the sacrament of penance. I will be praying for you and for any others with whom you may have been an accomplice in sin. As a young man my struggle with the call to a celibate priesthood had to do with putting aside the desire for a wife and family. Later I struggled with a personal aversion to deviant sexualities so that I might bring more of healing than judgment to the souls being ministered. Intellectually, I am absolutely convinced of the legitimacy of the Church’s stance as a truth from God in the sources of revelation.

  4. I hope Pope Francis will dig-in, as it were, and confront the German Bishops. Francis, it seem to me, is often vague in his approach to doctrinal matters in essence turning a blind eye. Then on occasion he provides leadership. Our Church today so often has Cardinal against Cardinal, Bishop against Bishop, etc. and we in the pews thirst for a strong Shepard to guide us. I pray several times a day that God will guide the Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests to teach what He wants them to teach and we will know when they are and when they are not. Your guidance Fr. Joe is most welcome.

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