Friday, December 29, 2023

What is a “couple”?

In my recent article on the controversy over Fiducia Supplicans, I noted three problems with the document’s qualified permission of blessings for “couples” of a same-sex or other “irregular” kind.  First, the document is not consistent with the Vatican’s 2021 statement on the subject, which prohibited such blessings, nor consistent even with itself.  Second, its incoherence makes abuses of its permission inevitable, despite the qualifications.  Third, the implicature carried by the act of issuing this permission “sends the message” that the Church in some way approves of such couples, even if this message was not intended.  In an interview with The Pillar, Cardinal Fernández addresses the controversy, but unfortunately, his remarks exacerbate rather than resolve the problems.

Cardinal Fernández’s answer

Some defenders of Fiducia Supplicans have suggested that the document intends “couple” to be understood merely as a pair of individuals, without reference to any special relationship between them.  I explained in my earlier article why that simply is not plausible, and the cardinal’s remarks in the interview now decisively rule this interpretation out.  Consider these passages from the interview:

Sometimes they are two very close friends who share good things, sometimes they had sexual relations in the past and now what remains is a strong sense of belonging and mutual help. As a parish priest, I have often met such couples

[In] a simple blessing, it is still asked that this friendship be purified, matured and lived in fidelity to the Gospel.  And even if there was some kind of sexual relationship, known or not, the blessing made in this way does not validate or justify anything.

Actually the same thing happens whenever individuals are blessed, because that individual who asks for a blessing… may be a great sinner, but we do not deny a blessing to him…

When it is a matter of a couple well-known in the place or in cases where there could be some scandal, the blessing should be given in private, in a discreet place.

End quote.  So, the “couples” that Fiducia Supplicans has in view include “friendships” and “two very close friends,” who may have “had sexual relations in the past” or “some kind of sexual relationship” in the past, who retain “a strong sense of belonging and mutual help” and may be “well-known in [some] place” to be a couple.  And blessing such couples is explicitly contrasted with blessing “individuals.”  All of this makes it undeniable that what Fiducia Supplicans is referring to by the word “couple” is not merely two individuals qua individuals, but two individuals considered as having a close personal relationship of some sort.  In other words, the Declaration is using the term in just the way most people use it when discussing a romantic relationship, not in some broader sense and not in some technical sense either.

Now, the cardinal also goes on to say: “Couples are blessed.  The union is not blessed.”  This confirms that he intends to distinguish “couples” from “unions,” as many defenders of the Declaration have tried to do.  However, the cardinal says nothing to explain how there can be such a distinction – that is to say, he does not explain how this distinction is not merely verbal, a distinction without a difference like the distinction between “bachelors” and “unmarried men.” 

There are three problems here.  First, and again, Cardinal Fernández’s remarks confirm that by “couple,” what Fiducia Supplicans is referring to are two people considered as having some close personal relationship, and indeed one that may have had a sexual component of some sort at least in the past.  But that is also just what the term “union” is typically used to refer to!  So, how can one possibly bless a “couple” without blessing the “union”?  It is not enough simply to assert or assume that one can do so.  We still need an explanation of exactly what it means to bless the one and not the other.

Second, the cardinal says that in the blessings that Fiducia Supplicans has in view, “it is… asked that this friendship be purified, matured and lived in fidelity to the Gospel.”  In other words, the blessing is not merely on the individuals who make up the couple, but on their friendship itself.  And how can that possibly fail to be a blessing on the “union”?  True, it doesn’t follow that it is a blessing on the sexual aspect of the union, but that is irrelevant to the point at issue.  It still amounts to a blessing on the union itself, despite the cardinal’s claim that “the union is not blessed.”

Third, the Vatican’s 2021 document on the matter says that while “individual persons” in irregular relationships can be blessed, it “declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such.”  Hence, the older statement says that irregular unions not only cannot be blessed, they cannot so much as be acknowledged.  But as Cardinal Fernández’s remarks make clear, Fiducia Supplicans does permit acknowledgement of such unions.  For how can you bless “their friendship” without acknowledging it?  How can you bless a “couple” considered as “two very close friends” who may have had “some kind of sexual relationship” in the past and retain “a strong sense of belonging and mutual help,” without “acknowledging their union as such”?

Hence, the cardinal’s remarks in the interview do not refute, but rather reinforce, the judgment that the 2023 Declaration contradicts the 2021 statement.

There is yet another problem.  Again, the interview with Cardinal Fernández confirms that Fiducia Supplicans uses the word “couple” in the ordinary sense that entails not merely two individuals, but two individuals considered as having a personal relationship of a romantic kind, or at least of a kind that once had a romantic component.  Now, in the past, the Church has explicitly repudiated the contemporary tendency to expand this ordinary notion of a “couple” so that it includes same-sex and other irregular relationships.  For example, in Ecclesia in Europa, Pope St. John Paul II criticized “attempts… to accept a definition of the couple in which difference of sex is not considered essential.”  In a 2008 address, Pope Benedict XVI lamented that “so-called ‘de facto couples’ are proliferating.”  Insofar as Fiducia Supplicans uses “couples” to refer to same-sex and other irregular relationships, then, it accommodates the usage that these previous popes condemned.  In this way too, the new Declaration conflicts with past teaching.

Mike Lewis’s answer

In a recent article at Where Peter Is, Mike Lewis complained that “countless papal critics are acting as if they can’t understand the difference between a couple and a union” and mocks their “sudden inability to grasp the difference” as “a case of mass lexical amnesia.”  Oddly, though, his article does not tell us what this difference is, which should have been easy enough if the distinction really were, as he insists it is, obvious and long-standing.

It seems that even some Where Peter Is readers were unimpressed, which has now led Lewis to try to explain the difference in a follow-up article.  Much of what he writes essentially just reiterates, at length, that the new Declaration clearly says that it authorizes only blessings for couples and not for unions, and that “most reasonably intelligent Catholics should be able to understand the difference if they read the document with a spirit of receptivity and an open heart.”  Of course, this does not address the question at all.  Everybody already knows what the Declaration says.  The question is how any coherent sense can be made of what it says.  In particular, exactly what is the difference between a “couple” and a “union”?  Naturally, to accuse those who continue to ask this question of lacking “a spirit of receptivity and an open heart” is not to answer the question.

Lewis does take a stab at answering it, though.  He writes:

I don’t understand why this is a difficult concept, obviously a “couple” is two people who are paired together.  A couple might be married, engaged, or involved in another type of relationship.  A union is a type of arrangement or agreement between two people… The Church can bless two people who are a couple without sanctioning everything that they do, nor recognizing every agreement they make.

End quote.  I trust that most reasonably intelligent Catholics who read Lewis with a spirit of receptivity and an open heart will see that this utterly fails to solve the problem.  Start with the last sentence.  Yes, one can certainly “bless two people who are a couple without sanctioning everything that they do, nor recognizing every agreement they make.”  But one can also bless a union without sanctioning everything the people in it do or recognizing every agreement they make.  So, this does exactly nothing to explain the difference between blessing a couple and blessing a union.

Consider next Lewis’s claim that “a ‘couple’ is two people who are paired together.”  What does being “paired together” amount to?  Is Lewis saying that just any two individuals, even perfect strangers, who happen to be standing next to one another counts as a “couple” in the sense Fiducia Supplicans has in view?  I’ve already explained in my previous article why that can’t be right, and we just saw above that the interview with Cardinal Fernández confirms that it is not right.  “Couple” in this context means more than merely two individuals, and connotes a special relationship between them.  And Lewis may well acknowledge this, since he goes on to say that “a couple might be married, engaged, or involved in another type of relationship.”

But then, we must ask yet again, how does this differ from a union?  Lewis says, first, that a union “is a type of arrangement.”  I hardly need point out that that is so vague that it is obviously true of couples no less than of unions.  Couples, such as the married and engaged couples Lewis gives as examples, are obviously in a kind of “arrangement.”  So, this too does exactly nothing to clarify the difference between a “couple” and a “union.”

What, then, of Lewis’s further suggestion that a union involves an “agreement” of some kind?  This is slightly less vague than “arrangement,” but not enough to help.  Consider two people who decide to go steady, or to become engaged, or to share bed and board.  Any of these suffices to make them a “couple.”  But these all involve agreements of some type (as well as arrangements).  Hence, by Lewis’s criteria, this also suffices to make them a “union.”  Once again, then, Lewis has utterly failed to explain the difference between a “couple” and a “union.”

Later in the article, Lewis suggests that the blessings the Declaration has in view “are meant for each of the persons in the couple, not an attempt to legitimize a union” (emphasis in the original).  But what does this mean, exactly?  Does it mean that what the Declaration has in view are blessings on the persons considered only as individuals, rather than as a couple?  But we already saw above, and at greater length in my previous article, why that is not what the Declaration is saying.

Following a suggestion from another defender of Fiducia Supplicans, Lewis suggests:

Fiducia Supplicans studiously avoids explicitly focusing on the dichotomy between individuals and relationships... “It does not so much discuss who or what gets blessed, but what blessings are and for what purpose.”  This suggests that the fixation of the document’s critics on the word “couple” is entirely misplaced, and we should turn our attention to why we bless.

End quote.  The problem with this is that it is simply not true that the Declaration “does not so much discuss who or what gets blessed.”  On the contrary, the whole point of the Declaration is to go beyond what was already said in the 2021 document and assert that blessings can now be given to “couples” qua couples (and not merely to the individuals in the couple, as the 2021 document allowed).  Hence for critics to focus on the word “couple” is not only not misplaced, it is precisely to do what the new Declaration itself does.

In a closing section so absurd that the unwary reader might wonder whether his article is, after all, meant merely as a parody of desperate defenders of Fiducia Supplicans, Lewis tells us that he consulted ChatGPT to see how it might explain the difference between “couples” and “unions”!  The part of the AI software’s response that is actually relevant to this question reads as follows:

The Church may view the blessing of individuals in a same-sex relationship as a recognition of their inherent dignity and worth as persons… Therefore, the Church might differentiate between blessing a couple (as individuals) and blessing their union. (Emphasis added)

End quote.  So, the only way ChatGPT is able to make sense of the difference between blessing a “couple” and blessing a “union” is to suggest that the individuals in the couple are blessed as individuals, rather than as a couple.  The problem with this, of course, is that the 2021 document already allowed for that, and that the whole point of the new Declaration is to authorize the blessing of couples as couples.  Once again, I explained at length in my previous article how that is the case, and Cardinal Fernández has confirmed it in the Pillar interview. 

Explaining the difference between “couples” and “unions” thus eludes the best efforts of man and machine alike. 


  1. My interpretation of it has been that the two persons and any good elements within their relationship are blessed, but the sexual/romantic aspect of the relationship (i.e. the union) is not. These are clearly two distinct concepts (I just distinguished them), and I suppose one can read the "innovation" referred to in FS as the novel claim that blessings can be "targeted" with enough specificity to bless couples in such situations without blessing the sinful union. ++Fernandez's remarks cohere with this proposal.

    Of course, this is still an unmitigated pastoral disaster, but we should not let our outrage blind us to these distinctions or lead to despair or doubt about the Magisterium. Our efforts would be more helpfully focused on highlighting the pastoral damage, rather than picking a fight over this issue.

    1. Where is the “blind outrage”? That’s an interesting way to describe those who are sincerely concerned and confused by it. Your explanation alone trying to show the distinction is confusing. When something that generates confusion is given by the church it’s not too helpful to blame the sheep for being the point of contention.

    2. The 2021 document anticipated your “distinction” and said no. FS says yes. Contradiction.

    3. Are the African bishops in a "blind outrage"?

    4. It is not the blind who are outraged, but the sighted.

    5. There is an insidious use of the word "couples" in FS which should not be overlooked, and which Ed does not mention here. FS speaks of blessing "a couple in an irregular situation" or "a same sex couple." The vast majority of couples in an "irregular situation" are not homosexual but heterosexual couples living together outside the sacrament of marriage, including many who have children and are in civil marriages. To put these "unions" on a par with homosexuality is scandalous. Unmarried couples in long-term relations are in a natural, if sinful, state. Their situation needs only vows sealed by the sacrament of marriage to become a Holy state, in addition to the natural state it already is--and who can deny the need for pastoral charity in such cases?

      But FS puts these irregular (but natural) relations on a par with homosexual relations, which besides being sinful are unnatural, and cannot be "made right" by any action of the Church. In fact, this seems to be the point. The concern is not for irregular heterosexual relations at all. On the contrary, FS legitimizes homosexual relations by putting them on the same plane as heterosexual relations.

  2. Putting aside any judgement on the merits of Fiducia Supplicans, I think the distinction Cardinal Fernandez has in mind is the following: to bless a couple means to bless their friendship and mutual help and even the life they share; to bless a union is to bless a (sexual) union.

    1. Pardon, but that makes it clear as mud then. None of these explanations actually explain anything. It seems like pure sophistry. So the essential thing that makes those two a couple (the thing that unifies them) is the one thing you're willing to grant as being superfluous.

    2. to bless a couple means to bless their friendship and mutual help and even the life they share; to bless a union is to bless a (sexual) union.

      Perhaps this is what FS is intended to say. However, if so, that does not save it from seeming to be damaging to clarity and creating harmful confusion.

      The essence of the problem of "the relationship" they have is that it is not one where it happens to have a bad aspect, among many other aspects that are good (or neutral). At least, not as such relationships normally subsist. If the relationship has the gravely disordered sexual desires and acts at its heart, then that disorder infects the entire relationship, it is not just "the bad aspect". The "friendship" and "mutual help" and "the life they share" are all deeply, gravely disordered by being made to cohere with (and, typically, spring out of) the disordered sexual desires and acts. It isn't "friendship" when each party is causing the other grave evils, and intend to go on doing so. It isn't "mutual help" when they are "mutually" working to make their gravely disordered sexual acts more frequent and more convenient.

      Although each of the two consent to the damage the other causes, the kind of "friendship" that they are engaging in is hardly a better thing than the relationship between a man and the woman he kidnapped and has been forcibly keeping at home as a sex slave. That she cleans the house and cooks, and he provides her with food and clothing (and a house to live in), cannot be counted as wholesome aspects of their relationship. No more can it be so for the gay couple doing similar things together, though they do it with consent.

      The "explanation" of Touchy-Feely Toucho Fernandez blatantly obscures the moral principles involved: Acts done "together" with gravely immoral motives are not to be characterized as "good acts with imperfect aspects", they are bad acts. As the "union of the whole life" of a married man and woman, as an aggregate whole, is praiseworthy if done with marital love, so the "union" of the whole life of a gay couple is blameworthy as an aggregate whole precisely because the unified aspects of the "life lived together" are made in order to be in service to the sexual disorder. You can't praise the "good aspects" of that life lived together because the whole of it has been made gravely disordered by the overarching motive under which that unity of life was formed in the first place.

      And this problem creates scandal even for blessing a couple that only used to engage in gay sex, but (while remaining living together) are now not sexually active: the scandal obtains as long as the union of the whole life appears to be in place as it was when they actually were together in sex. They once gave the appearance of the life lived in union as if married, and as long as the outward appearances of a life lived as if in sexual union remain, the scandal remains, as would a blessing for them as a couple would remain. It is only in virtue of it being generally known to all that they are not living in a sexual relationship that scandal could be avoided - and Fernandez failed to mention this at all.

    3. It looks like what is being blessed is the complicity of the accomplices.

  3. Again, I find it remarkable that as careful a philosopher as Ed is so hung up over this. Call me crazy, but there’s a pretty clear distinction between a couple as such and the objectively disordered union.

    1. OK, I’ll call you crazy.

      “Unions” per se are not objectively disordered, just as “couples” per se are not objectively disordered. Only some unions are, just as only some couples are. The parallel is exact.

      Yet the cardinal doesn’t merely say that you can’t bless “objectively disordered unions.” He says you can’t bless unions, full stop.
      Meanwhile, he says you can bless couples, full stop. He doesn’t say you can bless couples unless they are “objectively disordered couples.”

      So, once again, we’re left with no explanation of what the difference is between “couples” and “unions” that makes it the case that the one can be blessed but not the other. Nor does it really take being a careful philosopher to see this. Just intellectual honesty.

    2. "But there's a pretty clear distinction" so clear that you're not even going to venture that explanation that shows how a couple and a union are different. So the couple that is a couple because they are unified in their romantic attraction to each other has this "pretty clear distinction" from "an objectively disordered union". So is what unifies the couple (their romantic relationship with each other) not disordered?

    3. Dr. Feser,

      I basically agree with your analysis (and it measured and level-headed as always, for what it’s worth). But to play Devil’s Advocate, is it possible in a way consistent with the 2021 document to bless a couple / union qua Platonic friendship while not blessing a couple / union qua disordered sexual relationship?

      Obviously there is nothing in the 2021 document that condemns blessing two heterosexual married (to women) men who have been in a life-long Platonic friendship, even if the blessing is explicitly qua their friendship and not qua individuals. I imagine a priest saying something like, “May the Lord bless these two men’s friendship such that they may confirm each other in faith and help one another attain virtue and fidelity to the Church as long as they both live, etc.”

      Likewise priests might bless a platoon of soldiers or a fire crew, etc. qua group.

      The question then arises whether it is possible to bless certain couples or groups qua couples / groups but in a way that does not legitimize the original evil telos of their relationship but attempts to transform it.

      For example, if a gang wanted to break off from a larger crime syndicate and pursue an honest life, could a priest bless the gang qua previously evil organization in the hopes that it transforms into a virtuous anti-crime organization?

      I’m not arguing for the prudence of any of this, but is it possible in principle?

    4. I'm not that Anon, but I think the distinction being referred to is the one between a relationship and the people who are in a relationship. The "union" would be the relationship, and "couple" is the term for the people who are in that relationship.

      I think that Cardinal Fernandez's choice to use "couple" as shorthand for "two people in (or formerly in) a sexual relationship" has been disastrous for understanding Fiducia supplicans. I think that to some people, like him, his intended use of the word is obvious; to others, it clearly is not.

    5. So basically the problem is a lack of theological precision in this document. Which cannot be denied.

      Granted I say we are obligated to give an orthodox interpretation to this document and use it for that purpose even thought the document it itself jacked.

    6. Frankly, I’m not going to venture such an explanation because it is precisely in venturing such an explanation in which the confusion arises. If a couple requests a blessing from a priest, the priest can bless them. The disordered union of the couple is not being validated. With respect, what is difficult to understand about this? I’ve been in touch with some of the top orthodox theologians in the country on this issue, including John Grabowski (I’ll name him because he’s given interviews on FS), and none of them are particularly perturbed. One of them, a former dean of an ecclesiastical faculty of theology who in a moment of passion one boomed that “Notre Dame isn’t Catholic,” personally told me that he didn’t even see why the Church had to issue a document for priests to do this.

    7. Ed, while I appreciate the reply, “c’mon, man!” You’re reading confusion into the cardinals statements precisely because you aren’t looking at the documents as a whole. Look: Francis conveyed his blessing to a homosexual couple in 2015, then signed off on the 2021 statement. Did he just forget, or was he quietly condemning his own action? Or is it more reasonable to look for an underlying continuity between the 2015 blessing, the 2021 and 2023 documents, and the interview with Cardinal Fernandez.

      It’s quite clear from the 2023 document that the relationship itself is subject to blessing, but that this blessing is not to be construed as a validation but rather a sanation of the disordered relationship. The meaning of “blessing” shifts between the 2021 document and the 2023 document. This is precisely why the 2023 document was discussing the nature of blessings. And it is precisely in this respect that the Cardinal can distinguish between the couple and the union, which is probably a clumsier way than distinguishing between the nature of blessings in the two circumstances.

      Look, you’re free to think this was a bad idea, and I won’t disagree with you there. But if you think otherwise, you have to provide a coherent explanation for Francis’ papacy, and “He wants to change the Church’s teaching” just does not fit the facts. I was speaking with one distinguished canonist who said that in ten years, Francis hasn’t changed a single doctrine. What’s his raison d’etre? He's a Jesuit, my Gregorian-trained friend remarked, and Jesuits want people to do their own discernment. That explanation, to my mind, explains the pope’s behavior better than any other I’ve heard.

      (Btw, I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution, but I’ve long enjoyed your writing and I hope to finally read a few of your books in this coming year. Reinhard Hütter already told me to read your Aquinas back in the summer of last year…)

    8. This what theologian John Grabowski of CUA had to say about same sex blessings. He mostly supports what Francis did, but warned it could lead to "confusion." Theologian Ulrich Lehner of Notre Dame called F.S. "most unfortunate." Both predicted it would be interpreted the wrong way by German priests.

      It's the kind of an example of Pope Francis’s ministry as a whole, trying to combine doctrinal fidelity, in terms of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, but at the same time pastoral sensitivity and the emphasis on accompaniment,” John Grabowski, a Catholic University of America professor of moral theology.

      “It’s trying to blend the Church’s teaching with an inclusive pastoral approach while avoiding scandal, confusion, etc., which has been kind of the characteristic of Pope Francis’s approach,” Grabowski said. “His aim is not to change the teaching, but to change the tone in which the Church teaches.”

      However, he cautioned that the declaration could also lead to confusion if people take it to mean that “the pope is saying the Church can bless same sex couples, and just end of story.”

      That possibility for confusion led another theologian, Ulrich Lehner, to call the declaration “the most unfortunate public announcement in decades.”

      “Its imprecise language invites misunderstanding and will sow confusion. Moreover, some bishops will use it as a pretext to do what the document explicitly forbids, especially since the Vatican has not stopped them before,” said Lehner, the University of Notre Dame William K. Warren Professor of Theology.

      “It is – and I hate to say it – an invitation to schism,” Lehner added in a statement.

      Both Lehner and Grabowski connected the declaration to the situation in Germany, where priests have blessed same-sex couples. Grabowski predicted the declaration will be read as a “green light” for what the Germans are doing already, which, he said, would amount to misreading the document.

    9. “It’s trying to blend the Church’s teaching with an inclusive pastoral approach while avoiding scandal, confusion, etc., which has been kind of the characteristic of Pope Francis’s approach,” Grabowski said.

      I don't have any problem with describing Pope Francis's document as attempting an "inclusive pastoral approach". That's probably fair.

      I have lots of problems with then saying that this is in the midst of "while avoiding scandal, confusion, etc.", and especially adding "which has been kind of the characteristic of Pope Francis's approach."

      No, it isn't. if anything fair and honest can be said of Francis, it is that he really, REALLY doesn't mind confusion, it's kind of his hallmark. His media minders spent the better part of 6 years correcting, qualifying, limiting, folding, spindling, and mutilating his off-the-cuff comments to make them seem less than heterodox or to unwind the confusion in them, and sometimes (but rarely) just admitting the pope got it wrong. Until they (and the pope) just got tired of it, and now they (mostly) just let the gaffe's and confusions ride. He famously has said publicly (to media) of himself "I am careless".

      And if anything good can be said of chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia's loosening of treatment of people in "irregular" marriages, (i.e. married persons who got a divorce and are now living outside of marriage with another person as if they were married to them), it is that Francis is heavily, heavily discounting scandal as a grave concern in bringing these couples to being able to receive communion. At least in some places (like Malta, where the bishops effectively mandated all priests give communion to anyone who approaches to receive), the practical effect is as if he had said "scandal schmandal, give them communion".

  4. If a gay couple asked a priest to bless their "irregular situation, " the priest should what he would do if a man and woman asked the priest to bless their "irregular situation. " He would bless each one individually. He would not bless them as a couple.

  5. The RCC - human, only human, all too human. Just another church. This is just part of the early stage of a crisis that will see your pretentions smashed against the rocks of reality.

    1. That seems like a pretty big concession. Do you actually believe this is the first crisis the Church has endured which is significant enough to invalidate it?

      If not, perhaps those other alleged crises are where your objections truly lay.

      If so, then might you have a little patience to see if an institution that has been consistent for 2000 years might resolve this issue?

  6. If the distinction is merely verbal (like the one between "bachelor" and "unmarried man") then we should be able to use the terms interchangeably in a sentence, right? But it seems weird to say that Jake and Jane are a "union" or to say "oh, those are Jake and Jane, a union I know from work"

    1. Bingo. There is, for example, a real distinction between "business partners" and "business partnership". The former consists of people in a specific kind of relationship, and the latter is a specific kind of relationship. A third party can act on the former, as by taking the business partners out for lunch, without acting on the relationship between them. It's not actually possible to take a business partnership out for lunch, for example.

    2. René ,
      That's a nice example of the difference between the two terms.
      The terms 'union' & 'couple' are not used in the same way. So their meanings are not exactly the same.
      Seems to me that "union" is used to refer to or talk about a relationship. While "couple" is used to talk about the people in a relationship.

      Also, would like to make it clear that I am making no comment on the religious issues involved with the document being discussed.

    3. If I God forbid became a Widower tomorrow. I would be an unmarried man. But would I be a bachelor? I think a bachelor is a person who has never been married.

      So I am skeptical of Feser's response here.

      Not that it matters. What matters is if we concede Mike Lewis argument and reject Feser's it is not rationally disputable this document was badly written and creates plausible confusion and has harmed the faith.

    4. Based on a plausible interpretation of this document I submit it can be said if a clever priest blesses a gay couple he can do it in such a way as to plausibly "Pray the Gay away".

      He should warn gay couple seeking a blessing that is effectively what they are asking for because if I am a Priest and I call on God to strengthen the hearts of Tommy and Freddie to follow God's will as expressed threw the Dogma of His Holy Church well I am effectively asking Tommy and Freddie to stop participating in activities that offend Natural Law and Divine Law.

      So pray the gay away.

    5. Please define theological precision? Especially as there are many competing schools of theology, "catholic" and otherwise. And like all God ideas all theologies are created by very fallible human beings and in effect are very much about applied politics.

    6. There is, for example, a real distinction between "business partners" and "business partnership".

      This is true. But it leaves unaddressed the core issue, which is that a blessing is normally asked for in virtue of some (specific) issue, and for two people who ask for a blessing as a joined two rather than as individuals, they (typically) represent themselves as one under some aspect. The issue is that the blessing of two presented under a (specific) unifying aspect which unites them cannot but reflect on that unifying aspect under which they are presented as one, it does not merely address them individually. If two people ask a priest for a blessing for them "as a couple" because they are going to commit suicide together, he cannot bless them "in respect of their friendship and mutual regard for each other." That would make a mockery of blessing altogether. If a people join in a business partnership in order to defraud seniors, they cannot (at least, should not) get a blessing "because we are business partners" except by not disclosing the nature of that partnership (and if the priest knew of the nature of their partnership, he should not bless them qua partners.)

    7. As the anon who made the business partner/partnership distinction:

      It's time to make another distinction: between a couple asking for a blessing, and a couple asking for a blessing *as a couple*. To seek that a blessing be given to a couple *as a couple* is to seek a blessing of the relationship. Suppose, for example, that a couple had both recently been exposed to asbestos, or had decided to join a diocesan pilgrimmage to Lourdes and Fatima. In either case, the couple may come to a priest and seek a blessing... but the blessing would not (need to) be of them *as a couple*.

  7. Seems to me the wording is intentionally obscure to avoid alienating the conservative side while giving a nod and wink to the progressive side, which is apparently in open defiance of anything that calls homosexual relationships out of the will of God. Francis doesn't seem to be losing any sleep over that.

    Wonder why that is?

  8. I believe that the distinction between "couple" and "union" that Cardinal Fernandez is making in Fiducia supplicans (whether or not he should be using the words this way) is this:

    1. A "union" is a noun defined as "the sexual relationship between two people".
    2. A "couple" is a noun defined as "two people who are [or were] in a sexual relationship".

    Thus, one could say, "I sell two-for-one cheeseburger combos to couples every single day", but not "I sell two-for-one cheeseburger combos to unions every single day."

    Just as you understand by "couple" in my example sentence above that I am selling food to people, not to their relationship, so Cardinal Fernandez wants us to understand that blessings are to be given [even] to people in immoral sexual relationships, not to the relationships themselves.

    1. FS and you attempt to make a distinction that changes the meaning of “couple” exactly in the way JPII, BXVI and CDF taught can not be done. “Essential” to the “definition” of couple is “difference of sex.”

      You invite me to deny their authoritative Catholic teaching.

    2. It is not heretical to use the same word in two different ways in two different contexts. (It may, however, be confusing, unpastoral, inadvisable, reckless, etc.) What makes one or both usages heretical is what is meant by the word however it actually is used. Consider "homoousios". In third century Antioch, it meant one thing and the word itself was condemned. In 325, the first post-apostolic ecumenical council added that word to its Creed, and we still use that word in that Creed at Mass.

  9. St Paul teaches if a Man lies with a Woman they become one flesh. Sex between a man and woman creates a real metaphysical union. Wither that is a man and his wife or a Man and his whore. A real union takes place.

    But two men having sex and or two women creates no such union. Indeed, erotic acts between same sex participants isn't even technically sex since the final cause does not end in the potential to generate Children. It is pure onanism with a partner.

    Any "union" between gays is not real and cannot be blessed cause it does not exist. A couple is merely a "pair" of individuals. By definition if you are blessing a couple you are blessing a pare of individuals.

    Their romantic or erotic feelings wither moral or immoral for one another not withstanding.

    Blessing a married couple is blessing two individual sinners and an objectively good existing thing(the marriage) or with an engaged couple (a future potential marriage).

    Blessing a gay couple is merely blessing two sinful individuals. Nothing more since there is nothing more. The problem is giving the false impression that the gay couple are in a real union which is good and can be blessed.

    There is no such thing as a gay "union". So I am still not convinced there is a real contradiction here. But that is not important. There is a plausible appearance of one & the bad language and imprecise terms used in this document render it defective on those grounds alone. It creates confusion.

    It would have been better to let the 2021 statement stand and not add to it.

    Issuing this document has harmed the faith even if we concede Mike Lewis' interpretation & reject Feser's.

    That is the real issue.

    1. Excellent point. No one yet noticed that gay unions don’t exist anymore than gay unions.

  10. Regarding Mike Lewis and others, and as Pope Pius VI wrote in the introduction to Auctorem Fidei (1794), which condemned the Synod of Pistoia:

    "[The Synod of Pistoia's "involute and fallacious manner of dissertation"] cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.

    It is as if the innovators pretended that they always intended to present the alternative passages, especially to those of simple faith who eventually come to know only some part of the conclusions of such discussions, which are published in the common language for everyone's use. Or again, as if the same faithful had the ability on examining such documents to judge such matters for themselves without getting confused and avoiding all risk of error. It is a most reprehensible technique for the insinuation of doctrinal errors and one condemned long ago by our predecessor St. Celestine [Pope St. Celestine I, Epistle 13, no. 2 in Coustant] who found it used in the writings of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, and which he exposed in order to condemn it with the greatest possible severity. Once these texts were examined carefully, the impostor was exposed and confounded, for he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.

    In order to expose such snares, something which becomes necessary with a certain frequency in every century, no other method is required than the following: Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged".

  11. I think many of your commenters have already said or hinted at roughly this view in some of their comments, but I will add my own piece in hopes of clarifying. A couple is, of course, in its most basic sense, two of something. A couple of planes flew overhead recently, for example. But in this context, obviously, we are concerned with human couples specifically, and in fact what we might call “romantic” or “sexual” couples. That is, these couples have (or had) sex, go on dates, possibly consider having a wedding, and other such things. They also typically do non-romantic things, like argue, make decisions, go on walks, and so on. Their union, however, does none of those things. Their union does not argue, make decisions, or go on walks; their union does not go on a date, have sex, or consider a wedding. This shows, I think, that the two are different things. The romantic couples in question participate in or instantiate a union, but the couple is not the union itself.

    1. If they wanted that to be what they meant, they could have said "you may bless the two people in a disordered relationship, but you may not bless them as a couple or bless their union". That's clear and impossible to get wrong.

      That's not what they did, meaning the ambiguity and resulting strife is what they wanted. Either that or they are incredibly stupid.

    2. Well, what you have raised here is a different issue than the one I was addressing, which was whether there is a clear enough difference between a couple and its union. So, I just want to note that before I go on.

      As to what you’ve said, though, I don’t think they do want to say “you may not bless them as a couple or bless their union.” I think they want to say “you may not bless their union” but “you may (pastorally, not liturgically) bless them as a couple without declaring their union legitimate.” That is, you may bless the two people in a disordered relationship, even if they are still in that relationship and come to you together without having abandoned the relationship, but the blessing cannot be done in anything like a liturgical rite, and it cannot be anything like a marriage or approval of their union itself.

      Do I worry about how that might play out? Yes.

    3. They are hardly stupid , so one must concludes that they are conciously subversive heretics. Gives one a warm glow to see things further unravelling in this human, only human and all too human instiitution.

  12. I don’t know why you bother with explaining something that should have been explained in the document , except to continue to have readers.

    How much money has the conservative ‘splainin’ machine made since the 80s? I think Catholic answers has been around since the 80s before that was the wanderer.

    Conservatives to me are the mop up crew. After the wild eyed heretics mow down entire towns and cities the conservatives follow behind them and kill anyone left alive and rifle through their pockets.

    Maybe the Vatican 2 church ain’t the Catholic Church. It’s the o ky catholic answer, hehe

    It’s becoming clear that you conservatives don’t think the Catholic Church has a teaching office. But they are obsessed with the Eucharist. They wade through the muck to get what they think is the Eucharist and totally do away with the teaching office . Then they listen to ewtn and their favorite you tube commentator to learn what they want.

    Pray every day that God show you what is true.

  13. All these Anon postings are confusing. At least when I do it because my linux computer is weird I sign my monker..
    Son of Yachov
    Ben Yachov..

    1. You have omitted your moniker more than once when it has been convenient to you. Just saying. Carry on.

    2. Wonder how you would know that? If it was convenient to omit his name, you wouldn't know it was him, now would you?

      Unless you're him and you're the anonymous who said he likes being anonymous so he can post inconsistent positions...

    3. Kevin - Son of Yakov has been making very articulate contributions recently, but sometimes he either partly or entirely writes using Scottish slang. In the contributions I am thinking of he made the occasional lapse into this, so betraying his identity. In fairness , I suppose that the lack of a moniker might have been inadvertant.

    4. Anon - 1.51PM ABOVE

      Yes, Son of Yakov has been very polished and restrained recently. No more rudeness, abuse or Scottish scat.
      I have it on good authority that his psychotherapy and regime of antipsychotics has been very effective at curbing his obsession with trolls and his general sociopathy, so he is now even allowed out of the house alone at night, without a tag.

    5. Go on Son, let's see you give 'em the full Scottish!

    6. I don't as a rule omit my Moniker ya fibbing tossers(i.e. the two Anon slags without a moniker who falsely accuse me).

      If I do it accidently because I am using my linux computer & forget I immediately chime in and identify it was me at some point.

      I have no pity for these passive aggressive cowards. Pick a name or away ye go.

      PS I will be Scottish if I so choose.

    7. Son of Yakov - shouldn't that be Scotch, not Scottish?

    8. Son of Ya'Kov
      January 2, 2024 at 11:16 AM
      " I don't as a rule omit my Moniker ya fibbing tossers(i.e. the two Anon slags without a moniker who falsely accuse me)."

      Well, you came into contact with the tar baby, or babies, as the case may be.

      Don't blame yourself. They are always intentionally getting underfoot. Just remember to wipe your shoes thoroughly so you don't track it back into your domicile when reentering. If you catch my drift.

      In the meantime, constrained by your Catholicism as you are, consider that your notice of them as they sought you out, has granted a little temporary significance to what are on their own terms, cosmically pointless lives destined to end in oblivion - and none too soon to suit some of them, to hear them speak.

      Of course if they are wrong about Christ and the Spirit which they incessantly mock, it's probably a matter of out of the frying pan of life and into the eternal fire for them. It's a fate which they as malicious deceivers and slanderers will - it is said - acknowledge they deserve and actually flee toward of their own will, when the time comes. If, that is, the reports of certain saints and mystics are to be lent any credence.

      Which reminds me of something else I read here a bit ago ...

    9. DNW

      Do not worry about Son of Yakov DNW, he is more than capable of looking after himself! He is not someone to tangle with.

    10. I'm not worried about him taking care of himself. However the active Catholics on the site are challenged by the fact they generally try to uphold the Church's traditional moral teachings while simultaneously trying to square the circle with regard t o P.F's .... uhhh pontifications, and most significant of all, while imputing real humanity of the old fashioned living soul kind to that which proudly proclaims itself a soulless meat machine.

      It seems to me to be an impossible situation for those who believe that the trolls are poor souls, rather than that they are what they in effect proclaim themselves to be ... which is ultimately nothing of any objective significance.

      Tough row to hoe.

    11. DNW

      Anyone with any social intelligence will not feed and so encourage those they deem to be trolls. It is very simple - do not feed the troll! This simple strategy has quite escaped you however, in your probably macho desire to always reply and retaliate - and at very great length indeed too.

  14. In follow-up interviews, Cardinal Fernandez refers to an "exemplary" same-sex couple that ceased their sodomitic actvity and became chaste friends.

    Some have said that the document presupposes just this sort of arrangement between the individuals presenting themselves for a blessing. I doubt this is a plausible reading of the declaration, but I wonder if it would still be licit to bless such a relationship. Would it, Professor Feser?

    1. it would still be licit to bless such a relationship

      2 questions: (1) What "relationship", particularly?

      The friendship? Notionally, if two friends are truly friends (and thus, for example, do not urge immoral sex toward the other), they COULD request a blessing. But a blessing "for 'us together' because we are friends" is hardly a normal request for a blessing. I have never seen two people ask for a blessing merely on account of "we are friends" without any further cause.

      (2) Who - besides the two men - know that they are no longer in a sexual relationship? Does the priest? Do some of the other people present? Do ALL of the other people present who once knew them as a gay couple? Does everyone know it because the two men no longer live together and therefore are (manifestly) not living like a married couple? Of what substance is their "friendship" now that it has ceased to be a sexual relationship - have they both turned away from gay sex to become chaste? If all of these have favorable answers, then blessing them "as friends who also have some specific reason for a blessing together" will not scandalize the faithful - and the old rules and teaching would have said so, too.

      an "exemplary" same-sex couple that ceased their sodomitic actvity and became chaste friends.

      Truly exemplary friends, who had once been in a same-sex relationship, in order to become chaste, would have had to undertake to stay entirely away from each other for quite some considerable time, and then to be no more than distant acquaintances for a long time, before they could become friends who intend chastity each and mutually. (This is known as "avoiding the near occasion of sin".) Permit me to doubt the frequency of this occurring where they have undergone this long process before rebuilding a true friendship based on chastity, AND having some specific reason to seek a blessing of them as together in some form of a unity that warrants a blessing. I suppose it probably has happened, 3 or 4 times. That doesn't mean we need a new policy about it. Especially when the old policy handled such a situation just fine.

  15. I call same sex "couples" pairings. Same sex pairings.

  16. Whilst I agree that FS was an unhelpful document that trivialises the majesty of the ideal handed down to the Church from God, I do think that the godless modern world necessitates a way to welcome those whom God is calling from the streets to His banquet. There are two important caveats to this, firstly that they must reject sin and agree to turn away from it. Secondly the ideal must remain the ideal, even though none of us live to it 100%. FS misses both of these, and only for that reason, rather than what it is attempting to address, is it a miss-step.

    I will give an example. Say a man was brought up as fully ‘secular’ atheist. He has been in a relationship with a woman for 10 years - unmarried- when he has a conversion experience. He is strongly called to God, and decides that the Catholic Church is the fullest expression of that calling, so joins it. His ‘girlfriend’ doesn’t have the same conversion. He manages to persuade he of some of the truths, but she still sees no point in actually going to Church. She retains the common view of marriage - that people should leave a marriage if it’s not working for them in term of their personal fulfilment. What does the man do? Does he marry her (if she agrees to it), even though she may divorce him a year later, potentially separating him from the Eucharist? All he can really do is stop having sex with her, and pray for her to start attending Church. But if she doesn’t, does he separate a relationship that to him is a life relationship in God’s eyes? What if they have children, would that really be the right Catholic response?

    My belief is that this person could be - if he tries - in a state of grace. He is following God as best he can, not committing any deliberate sin according to scripture and the ancient Church tradition. He is just in a weird situation due to the fact that (in Europe at least) belief in God is seen as a kind of weird hobby now. Would Jesus really want the Church to abandon such people?

    The answer to me seems to be not to lower the ideal, as FS does, but to be more loving and more forgiving to individuals who turn fully to this ideal - as far as they are able to given the messy state of the world - and turn away from sin. FS could have been so much better if it’s focus was on making the ideal available to real people in the ever more fallen world, rather than going part way to endorsing the fallen world.

    1. I would suggest that to the extent that he knows their relationship is viewed by the Church as gravely deficient, to that extent he doesn't even SEEK a blessing "as a couple". But unlike a gay sexual relationship, this sexual relationship can be re-aligned into a holy marriage, if the two change their minds and hearts, so this relationship itself has potential that the gay relationship does not. So, if they both change their minds and hearts by deciding to live chaste lives as brother and sister until they can get married, a priest could bless them (privately) as a couple precisely because they INTEND right sexual behavior now and in the future. The intent to have sex in the future (when married) is a chaste intention exactly the way any engaged couple would intend, and the Church has blessed engaged couples as couples in betrothal ceremonies for centuries.

      To the extent (especially early on) that he is wholly ignorant the Church maintains several objections to his sexual relationship, to that he might ask for a blessing for them as a couple, and (if the priest also is ignorant of his situation) the blessing might be given, but that's merely non-culpable by ignorance of the facts, not a good act in and of itself.

      What does the man do? Does he marry her (if she agrees to it), even though she may divorce him a year later, potentially separating him from the Eucharist?

      She could not contract an actual, valid marriage if she persists in the view that the marriage can be severed by divorce if she finds it no longer fulfilling, as validity of marriage requires the intention of permanence. So he should not press that option so long as her views remain in that state of rejection of permanence as a required condition.

      If she changes her views sufficiently to get married validly, and then later becomes so disgusted with the marriage as to seek a legal divorce even though she know the Church does not view a "divorce" decree as ending the marriage, the legal decree does not put him in a state of sin. A married man can live a life separate from his wife for a number of reasons, without sin: if he (or she) is in prison, or if she leaves him (even without a divorce). (Also, some married men and women, while living together, must practice permanent continence because of physical illness that precludes sex.) The fact that he is married means he must remain chaste and not seek any other woman, it does not put him in the state of sin. Her actions are not his sins.

    2. Thanks for your reply Tony. I do still think that this is a strange half way house between a society where most people go to Church, versus another where it’s assumed that people just choose a relationship that suits their ideals. If you have two nuns who develop a close friendship in a convent, with no hint of a sexual context, but with a clear preference to spend their free time together when they can, is there anything “gravely deficient” in that relationship?

    3. Perhaps I’m heading down an unhelpful road of casuistry here? However there are many examples now where individuals find themselves ‘deficient’ in arguably unavoidable ways. I know a cradle Catholic who fell for a man who was divorced. She wasn’t divorced but nonetheless decided to leave the Church and marry him in the CoE. Whereas Boris Johnson (ex UK PM) was himself divorced (and unfaithful), and yet was able to get remarried in a Catholic Church because his previous marriage was in the CoE. I’m not sure I fully embrace the Vatican II call to ecumenism, as some ways are clearly more true than others, but we seem to have ended up in a strange mash of saying one thing on the one hand, and something else on the other. Where the rubber hits the road in terms of people’s real lives, it’s not the heavenly platonic ideal that the Church presents, the call to try to be “perfect, as our father in heaven is perfect”, but rather a legalistic compromise that turns it’s back on those who want to do the right thing, whilst endorsing those who are not primarily guided by what is right.

      I’m not sure what the answer is, as it can’t be to endorse the hedonistic philosophy of lust and death which underlies many of the changes in the world that have often built the context for the problem. Equally, we cannot ignore His last call to Peter: “Feed my sheep”.

    4. If you have two nuns who develop a close friendship in a convent, with no hint of a sexual context, but with a clear preference to spend their free time together when they can, is there anything “gravely deficient” in that relationship?

      Simon, I have no problem with the fact that many pairs of people, including those of the same sex, can be friends without a sexual relationship. They can be close friends who share chess, skiing, archery, politics, or whatever - or all of the above. It's fine. But it isn't typical to ask for a blessing of their friendship as such, except if under some unusual aspect.

      But two people who have once established a sexual relationship and live together as if living the "union of their whole lives", which is the kind of union that married couples share, are in a different situation as regards even their friendship. Even if we grant a (probably quite rare) case of two men who were close friends on entirely natural and normal grounds of shared interests in wholesome things, and only later came to also be a gay couple living as if married, there are two factors that make them no longer like two guys who are close friends with no sexual relationship: (1) the life lived in the form of "union of the whole life" constitutes (among other things) a life planned and conformed around the sharing of the bed. This means that the entirety of the plan of life, and the shared activities which that plan entails (eating together, shopping together, going on vacation together, etc) are spiritually deformed by the explicit intention that this plan of life serves toward the disordered sexual acts and relationship. To give an analogy: suppose a man and woman who are con men devise a "long con" to bilk a certain target out of millions, and this long con requires that they spend months in a life that is a complete image of a married couple, including a shared bed with sex. The acts of making dinner, going to a play, doing the gardening, etc done as "a married couple" aren't "good aspects" of their life, as opposed to the plan to defraud their target (which is the evil part) - no, their entire lifestyle together is tainted by its being at the service of a deformed intention. So (in them) the acts of "marital bliss" like shopping and cooking together are morally wrong by reason of their being made so as to conform to the wrong intention of fraud and the intention which created this entire plan of living toward that end.

      (2) The two friends (without a sexual relationship) never evolve a "union of the whole life" in the way a married couple do, and as a result, the people around them have no basis to attribute toward their normal friendship anything more than normal friendship. Whereas, for a gay couple living together as if married, they do exhibit the normal features of the union of the whole life, including the typical closer touches, glances, etc that husband and wife exhibit in public. This means that people around them are not wrong to believe that the couple exhibiting the outward forms of a union of the whole life are also living that life in the privacy of the bedroom. And this means that a blessing of them insofar as united together will be taken by others who know them, as a blessing of them in respect of their disordered relationship, including its sexual aspect, because a union of the whole life IS a sexual relationship.

    5. Sorry, the comment above was mine.

      However there are many examples now where individuals find themselves ‘deficient’ in arguably unavoidable ways. I know a cradle Catholic who fell for a man who was divorced.

      I probably would disagree with the "unavoidable". For example, I know of people who "fell for" a married & divorced Catholic (i.e. someone the Church says is still married), and just learned to suck it up, not pursue the divorced person, and not ACT on their feelings.

      Whereas Boris Johnson (ex UK PM) was himself divorced (and unfaithful), and yet was able to get remarried in a Catholic Church because his previous marriage was in the CoE.

      While one possibility is that the church that carried out the wedding was simply flouting the rules, there is another possibility as well: Johnson was actually baptized Catholic as a child. Catholics are required, as a condition for validity of the marriage, to follow Catholic canonical form. Since Johnson's earlier marriages were CoE and not canonical, they would be viewed as invalid marriages from the outset by the Catholic Church. (However, his renouncing Catholicism while at Eton is a complicating factor in a couple different ways, and so I don't claim a definite answer.)

      we seem to have ended up in a strange mash of saying one thing on the one hand, and something else on the other.

      That's Francis to a T.

      Where the rubber hits the road in terms of people’s real lives, it’s not the heavenly platonic ideal that the Church presents, the call to try to be “perfect, as our father in heaven is perfect”, but rather a legalistic compromise that turns it’s back on those who want to do the right thing,

      There is a deep debate about whether what is being claimed as "I just want to do the right thing" really is the right thing. For example, for a couple who were (each, separately) married and divorced, and now civilly married to each other, with kids: there is often a claim that "we must stay together for the sake of the kids." This sounds like a plausible claim. However, nothing requires that they continue to have sex together for the sake of the kids. In fact, living as brother and sister may be what they are called to do (unless they can get their former marriages annulled) and while that isn't the pristine white of the "ideal" of a good, standard family, it is what is available to them to attempt. But (so often) that solution is rejected because they won't view it as even possible (much less acceptable) - even though there ARE couples who do this.

      There is no doubt: when you make bad choices, you can get yourself into a place where none of the options are both palatable and morally good. In such cases, you can choose palatable or you can choose morally good, but pretending that the palatable IS the good choice (because, says he, there MUST be a good palatable choice) isn't one that represents "doing the right thing".

    6. Thank you for your detailed answer Tony. In general it makes sense and mostly I agree. The argument that someone who has not themselves been married should avoid someone they fall in love with is a bit more difficult in the modern word - certainly in the UK. The reality is that most young adults - even Catholics - will have sexual relationships before they get married. This is just the world now, with of course a few exceptions. So an unintended consequence may be that people are more hesitant to get married, as the non-married sexual relationships are in effect hidden from the Church (except maybe in confession). However even thinking about that situation, the right answer can’t be to sacrifice the ideal, the ‘good’ ideal of a ‘whole life partnership’. We as Catholics need to do our best to live in the world while not being of the world. It seems there are signs that the young that still hold to the faith are far more serious about the ideal, in which case the problem goes away. However for those that come to the Church from how their lives are from living in the world as atheists/secular, or for those inside the Church who fall for someone not Catholic, it’s far more difficult. It’s those I feel for, far far more than someone raised Catholic who decides they are gay and complains that it’s unfair that their ‘marriage’ can’t be blessed.

  17. The Church and its' leadership ignores and condemns cultural change, hoping and praying that may go away.
    I doubt those hopes and prayers will be met. It is not my fight, nor would I wish it to be so.

    1. Paul,

      On the contrary. The Church encourages and commends cultural change. The culture certainly needs changing. It usually does.

      Don't believe me? Just watch!

    2. The RCC is becoming more and more irrelevant, especially to the young in developed nations, who could not agree less with its views on relationships, sex and sexuality. The RCC take on artificial birth control is held in open derision by almost everyone.
      Your church and its ever depleting band of mysogenists from the 12th centuary , attired like clowns, is now in irreversable decline.

    3. As Chesterton remarked a century ago, the Catholic Church has gone to the dogs several times in its long history, and in the end it has always been the the dog that died.

    4. Anonymous@January 1, 2024 at 1:57 PM

      It seems to me that "developed nations" are committing demographic suicide and so before long there will only be the so-called undeveloped people and Catholic Church left to pick up the pieces. Seems that's happened before.

      Have a nice New Year.

  18. Since this document is out there, we need to quickly define "couple" in a way that makes this work, rather than just say this is unworkable.
    Catholic's can already distinguish "Marriage" (conjugal vision as understood as defined by Catholicism) and "Marriage" (relational vision as understood by everybody else.) If we can draw a distinction with meaning for the same word, than we can certainly distinguish two similar but different words as we have done for "earn" and "merit" with regards to salvation. "Couple" seems to me to be a self-defined relationship by the people involved. Like "Marriage" (relational sense), "Couple" has no corresponding meaning in reality and does not conform to any invisible reality joining the people. While "couple" may feel more intense when the persons are romantically involved, "Couple" in the romantic sense has no more spiritual or real unification than being a line dance couple. The feelings or sex involved have no more bearing on the presence or absence of a "union" than feelings or sexual activity alone make real or break a real bond in marriage. I think making and drawing this distinction is actually a catechetical opportunity. Dr. Feser, will do better than I at a definition, but I think starting to defining "Couple" with a "Self identified" status but no spiritual reality is the right direction.

    1. I don't think that works because then there is nothing apart from the individuals to bless when you bless the couple. For a couple blessing to mean anything beyond blessing the individuals, the couple as an object has to have some spiritual reality itself.

    2. "Couple" seems to me to be a self-defined relationship by the people involved.

      Two people may "define themselves" to be a couple, but if they are asking for a blessing as a couple, then they are also asking the priest to recognize them as a couple. It stops being self-only when they ask others to cooperate in that definition. The others have a right to grant or withhold that cooperation in their own lights.

  19. I would argue that there cannot in principle be such a thing as a "gay union" in any literal sense, since sexual unions are by their nature ordered toward the proper end of sex, reproduction. Even sterile heterosexual couples can have a sexual union, since they still possess that order though it is damaged.

    This is what makes FS even more perversed. To lump hetero fornicators with homo sodomites is to suggest that the love that dare not say it's name is equivalent to good old fashioned man-woman sport f*****g. There is a difference, after all, being a gloryhole and Gloria Hole.

    1. For much of history up to the early modern they were considered closely equivalent, so much so that in some cases it’s not possible to find precisely what manner of sin a person was accused of (Richard the Lion-Heart is one instance of this). Although concubanage might have been a separate case the idea that there is something significantly less bad about illicit casual heterosexual liaisons from a Catholic perspective is wrong—there is this corrupting high-school view of sex which sometimes creeps in from popular right discourse.

  20. I wish Dr. Feser, his family and everyone here a Happy and Blessed New Year.

  21. Hi Dr. Feser, I see it differently!

    I think "couple" refers merely to the unqualified numerical grouping of two individuals, whereas "union" refers to a specific kind of unity between the two individuals. There is no kind of "couple" that is intrinsically disordered for that reason. What we think of what as disordered about same-sex "couples" is merely that the expression "same-sex couple" may euphemistically imply the cooccurrence of a sexual union. So to say "they are a couple" may imply "they have a sexual union", but the union itself is not synonymous with the couple. It's similar to how saying "I went to dinner" implies that you ate dinner, but the eating is not synonymous to the going.

    But while saying "I went to dinner" implies that you ate dinner, it also leaves open the possibility that you simply attended dinner without eating. So someone who is dieting and avoid eating out may offer this qualification: "It's okay for me to go to dinner so long as I am not also eating at the restaurant." Likewise, we can say "it is okay to bless [the unqualified grouping of two same-sex individuals] so long as we are not doing so in a way that acknowledges or affirms [any sexual union cooccurring in their grouping]."

    In a comment, you wrote this: "'Unions' per se are not objectively disordered, just as 'couples' per se are not objectively disordered. Only some unions are, just as only some couples are. The parallel is exact."

    Based on what I wrote, I disagree. There is no kind of intrinsically disordered "couple", because whatever is disordered in the grouping is not the couple but rather the cooccurrence of a sexual union. In other words, the notion of a same-sex couple is disordered not qua couple but qua sexual union.

    To further illustrate the distinction, consider that in the expression "same-sex couple" the term "same-sex" described the individuals being grouped rather than the couple itself. It would sound semantically awkward to speak of a "sexual couple" because the word "sexual" doesn't seem to fit with how "couple" is being used. But we can absolutely speak of a "sexual union" and the wording immediately feels more natural, because "sexual" properly applies to the union itself rather than to the mere grouping of the two individuals.

    1. There is no kind of "couple" that is intrinsically disordered for that reason...There is no kind of intrinsically disordered "couple", because whatever is disordered in the grouping is not the couple but rather the cooccurrence of a sexual union.

      I completely disagree. If two people join together into a partnership explicitly in order to accomplish an evil goal, that partnership is itself a disordered grouping. E.G. if two people form a partnership in order to commit murder. Because intention to unite is formed under an intention to murder, the union is disordered in itself. As a consequence, everything that they do together in pursuit of that evil goal, even things that are otherwise good or neutral things), are also morally disordered by the evil goal under which those acts are done: opening a bank account, buying supplies, buying telephone contracts - these are normally wholesome things (or neutral), but because they are done for an evil purpose, they are evil acts in this case. And the partnership as a whole is a disordered union of the two, because the motive that constitutes the very reason for existence of the partnership is morally disordered.

      The principle can be applied to other pairs of people. Suppose that a guy and a girl have a long-standing (years-long) friendship, with 2 or 3 hobbies that they both enjoy, but with no romantic or sexual aspect. And suppose that they spend a long, long day pursuing a hobby with lots of shared ups and downs, and by surprise to both, end up getting the hots for each other and sleep together. They can, afterwards, admit they made a (moral) mistake, and (at least attempt) to return to their former "just friends" which they enjoyed for years, but if they do so they won't pretend to be "a couple" in any sense other than friends who share a a few hobbies - and if they do this they will have the unity of friendship, which they had earlier all along.

      However, if they move in together into the same house, and entwine their lives in the way married couples do, and share the same bed, then they have taken on the kind of "union of the whole life" that is proper only to the married
      . In that situation, with respect to their couple-ness, enjoying sex together is not a mere accidental feature of their otherwise years-long friendship: the union-of-the-whole-life encompasses their earlier relationship and re-orders it into a new relationship that cannot be properly recognized without reference to the whole-life re-organization that has taken place. It is a simulacrum of marriage, without being marriage, and that just means that it is deformed. They aren't two individual friends who once had sex, they are A COUPLE who intends to go about life as if the bed they enjoy is the marriage bed. The sex isn't incidental to the intention of the life re-organization, it is a critical motive for that re-organization.

  22. Even in Utah, close to 75% of those polled support same-sex marriage.

    1. Morality has nothing to do with polls.

    2. The majority of the population of the world opposes same-sex marriage.

      So anyone appealing to argumentum ad populum would lose on this issue if it wasn't a fallacy which it is. You do know better too ficino4ml.

    3. I doubt the accuracy of polls like this. But I do not doubt that there has been a vast movement of feeling toward toleration of gays in "married" unions. To call that "support" of same sex marriage is very likely a flawed result. I doubt that 75% of the people in Utah actually think that gay men who want to get married should get married, as if it were the right thing for them to do.

    4. bmiller

      Ficino was making an observation, not offering an argument. He only wrote one paragraph and you managed to misrepresent him.

      In the developed, democratic world, where people are not under the dark jackboot of religion, same sex marriage has majority and increasing support, especially among the young. This is so even in Ireland, as revealed in the referendum there.

      Not all churches oppose SSM, and - although it may be news to you - the RCC has absolutely no special status in todays world, so the legalisation of SSM is actually a matter of religious freedom.

      Meanwhile, the secular world is increasingly sick of your meddling in our lives - crucially, and especially, the young. You people have even managed to loose Ireland! Who cares what you think, though it is a goid thing when the Vatican moves to become more accepting of same-sex relationships, so that it will bless them for example, as now.

    5. @bmiller: What I posted is consistent with either "position" on SSM.

    6. ficino4ml,

      What you posted was a fallacious argument. You know better. It's beneath you.

    7. @ Anymouse: this is wording used by another source that reported the Utah poll: "The new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics survey found 72% of residents agree that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The poll shows 23% disagree, while 5% don’t know."

    8. "In the developed, democratic world, where people are not under the dark jackboot of religion, same sex marriage has majority and increasing support, especially among the young. This is so even in Ireland, as revealed in the referendum there."

      Aborting and buggering your way to sub-replacement total fertility rate is for losers. Even in Ireland.

    9. @Zoe

      Yes, you have a point. Irish can't engage in non-reproductive sex and then complain when economics demand immigrants replace the missing population. Choices always have consequences!

    10. @bmiller: it is beneath you to present someone's link to a piece of information as an "argument." If I had posted an argument, I would have set out leading premises, media, and a conclusion.

      I am not posting an argument about SSM now because we all know the natural law arguments and rebuttals of same. Too many contentious assumptions, too little time.

      If you don't find the Utah poll interesting, that's up to you.

    11. ficino4ml,

      Some gay guy wades into a discussion of whether gay couples should be blessed or not to drop a newspaper article implying most Mormons favor gay marriage. And I'm supposed to believe he did not intend to persuade anyone of anything?

      Even if you didn't claim that you wrote for a living I would find that very hard to swallow. I'm adjusting my expectations accordingly.

    12. ZOE 2.10PM

      If you consider the matter dispationately for a second, you will see that legalising SSM in Ireland could have had no effect on the fecundity of its people,because it involves the marriage of GAY people, who would not otherwise be generating children.

    13. bmiller

      I took ficino to be doing precisely what he did , ie reporting an interesting statistic. How you can see this as an argument, or an attempt at persuasion, is anyone's guess.

    14. Anonymous of 12:56PM and 4:14PM:

      If you stop being deliberately obtuse for a second you will see that:

      a) I didn't say that same-sex marriage (SSM) legislation was responsible for the cratering birth rates in Ireland, and

      b) bmiller's reading of ficino's post, while probably not the most charitable, is perfectly reasonable.

      If you can connect the "developed, democratic world" to support for SSM due to them being freed from "the dark jackboot of religion" (eyeroll) then I can link the same population to disastrous total fertility rates due to them treating sex as a toy.

    15. Zoe at 2.26PM

      I was not being obtuse at all.

      In your post of Jan 2nd, 2.10PM, you quote a paragraph of mine which refers to the majority and growing support for SSM in the developed nations, especially among the young. You then retort that 'aborting and buggering yourself to sub-replacement total fertility rate is for loosers.' Gay people constitute a very small percentage of the population , so their 'buggery' , and SSM ( which is what I was talking about ) is an absurd factor to implicate in any reduction in a countries 'fertility rate'. If you think that gay people should miraculously go straight and start churching out kids, you are a fantasist.

    16. You're still being obtuse and, because I've already explained how, you're also being tedious.

      But not for nothing, there's only one 'o' in "losers" and no such thing as sexual orientation: "gay people" are just people with disordered sexual desires engaging in disordered sexual behaviours. Like too much of the "developed, democratic world."

  23. With all the splitting of hairs that is going on regarding the definition of "couple" and as a native Spanish speaker from South America, I am surprised that no attention has been given to the fact that Fiducia Supplicans was most likely originally written and/or discussed in Spanish.

    Because the Spanish term "pareja" seems to be much harder to defend (more confusing) than "couple".

    (1) The use of the Spanish word "pareja" is reserved to pairs that form a distinctive unit, whether functionally or otherwise, such as socks, gloves, etc. Contrary to what happens in English, in Spanish, you would never say, for example, "una pareja de horas" or "una pareja de cervezas" (a couple of hours, or a couple of beers), but "un par de horas" and "un par de cervezas" (a pair of hours, and a pair of beers), because two hours or two beers are not per se considered as a separate unity. And maybe more importantly, "pareja" would not be used to signify a pair of socks or gloves that are not the same or that do not supplement each other (that do not constitute a "well-ordered" or useful pair). So, in other words, the term "pareja" *necessarily* includes the relationship.

    (2) "Pareja" has even stronger romantic-specific connotations than the English term "couple", because it is not only used to refer to a couple as such, but also to the other person in the couple (similar to the English word "partner").

    (3) "Pareja" is very commonly used as a specific and pretty much exclusive descriptor for non-marital sinful partnerships, e.g., "parejas de hecho" (de facto partnerships) or "parejas del mismo sexo" (same-sex partnerships).

    1. Other languages and how they translate to English was the first thing I looked into, but Google translate didn't really get me anywhere. I did find a Reddit post where "paaran" had a romantic connotation, but could find no other confirmation.

    2. All of that is true, Cacique, but it is also true that even in Spanish "pareja" is not the same as "unión". The difference is not merely verbal as Feser says, because, using your same reasoning, you wouldn't refer to a "pareja" as a "unión", such as in the sentence "salí a comer con Juan y María, una unión que conozco del trabajo"

    3. Hola René,

      I did not argue that "pareja" and "unión" are exactly the same. And I do not think Dr. Feser does either. Indicating that the distinction between them is merely verbal in the pastoral context of a blessing (which is the context that FS deals with and which everyone is commenting about here), does not mean that "pareja" and "unión" are exactly the same or interchangeable in every possible situation.

      It only means that in said pastoral context, "pareja" can be reasonably understood by those participating in or watching the blessing as signifying "unión". Why? Because, among others, as I mentioned and you accepted, the term "pareja" necessarily includes the relationship.

      The example you put forward does not in fact help your argument but rather runs against it. By referring to two people you know from work as a "pareja", you are indicating that they have some sort of (romantic) relationship. Otherwise, you would have just said "dos personas del trabajo" (two persons from work), "un par de personas del trabajo" (a couple of people from work), "dos compañeros de trabajo" (two coworkers), "dos colegas" (two colleagues), etc. So, we are back again in square one: the term "pareja" includes the relationship.

  24. Dissent is a grave sin. It's not wise to critique the Magisterium in judgment. The Declaration is clear to anyone seeking understanding. To those with hardened hearts, and Pride, trusting the Word of God appears difficult.

    1. Post-Modern truth is a servant to power moment

  25. Edward,

    Excellent work! I also did my research to discern if any Church document before FS referred to those in same sex relationships as couples and found NONE.

  26. I'm mostly in agreement with you, but I'll play devil's advocate here.

    Is it possible for priests to bless troops without blessing the mission for which they are assembled? Was it possible to bless airmen before an attack on a German city without blessing the bombing of civilians? Was it possible to bless a SAC bomber wing without blessing the use of nuclear weapons to threaten genocide?

    1. Was it "possible"? It was possible indeed, in the sense that some priest or other could have done such blessings whether he was supposed to or not. If the question is "Is it possible to rightly do such blessings", the answer varies. If the blessing is for "the 324th Brigade," the blessing could be fine because it is not true that the very purpose of the brigade's existence was to carry out immoral missions. Same is true of SAC bomber wings - they also trained for other missions than just the kind of nuclear first strike attacks, mission profiles that would have had moral purposes in time of war. But if the blessing requested was "please bless this air wing as they depart to generate a fire-storm in the city of Tokyo", the answer should have been "no".

      Priests may have been giving out imprudent blessing in all sorts of troublesome situations, long before the gay nonsense arose. In Christian Europe, priests did a lot of blessing on both sides of the frequent wars, and probably some of the time they weren't careful about what cause the were giving approval to. But this defect doesn't give us good reason not to be careful now.

  27. I've been impressed, in the sense of baffled, by the energy expended on and ingenuity applied to polishing the turd of Pope Frankie's Finocchio Supplica publication.

    It appears that in this "game" the queen's really have finally captured the castle from the defending bishops.

    How can normal Catholic men even tolerate sitting through a Mass with these abominations and their clients swarming the sanctuary?

    The slow boiled proverbial frog is the only convincing explanation I can readily think of ...

  28. Hi Dr. Feser! I tried commenting in response to this article but the comment grew so big I turned it into a post. It addresses the couples vs. unions distinction, and some other stuff!

  29. @ Doctor Ed Feser

    Hey boss! Given Fernandez has issued a clarification. A revisit of this topic is in order.

    1. @Son of Ya'Kov: hello Jim, interesting article and worth reading, thanks for posting. I note this from the article:
      "The cardinal emphasized that the “real novelty of this declaration” is “the invitation to distinguish between two different forms of blessings: ‘liturgical or ritualized’ and ‘spontaneous or pastoral.’”

      I wonder whether an "invitation to distinguish" reaches the degree of clarity that might be sought by many who have commented on FS.

    2. Well many theologians and Priests remarked their is no such real distinction. I think what they are trying to say that there is a difference between asking for an ordinary simple generic blessing vs things we might find in the BOOK OF BLESSINGS which list things a Priest might bless and gives a type of prayer he can say.

      There will be no such blessing per say of gay couples or straight couples who are not validly married. The example form given by Fernandez calls for the Priest to give separate Sign's of the Cross over each individual. Instead of a single one over a married couple.

      But Catholics don't read. They heid the papers.

      Sad really.

      PS Happy New Year mae man!

  30. Additional:

    This is the prayer Fernandez suggested.

    "In this case, the priest can recite a simple prayer like this: “Lord, look at these children of yours, grant them health, work, peace and mutual help. Free them from everything that contradicts your Gospel and allow them to live according to your will. Amen”. Then it concludes with the sign of the cross on each of the two persons."

    So, according to Cardinal Fernandez you cross each individual person and not the "couple"?

    So this leads me to think he interprets "couple" as referring to a pair of individuals.

    Not that "winning" or not "winning" this point matters.

    This document still caused great confusion and damage and now the Pope and Fernandez have to clean up the mess they made. The original document was still gravely imprudent and issuing it was ill advised.

    But at least they are cleaning up the mess. Also if we suspect neither Francis nor Fernandez are doing their job we can be confident with this development The holy Spirit is doing His Job. Amen.

    I also like this bit. Take than Fr. Martin!

    "In order to avoid any doubt, the Declaration adds that, when the blessing is requested by a couple in an irregular situation, «even though it is expressed outside the rites prescribed by the liturgical books, this blessing should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them. Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding. The same applies when the blessing is requested by a same-sex couple» (n. 39). It remains clear, therefore, that the blessing must not take place in a prominent place within a sacred building, or in front of an altar, as this also would create confusion."

    1. Will Fr. Martin now face the "Inquisition"? No one expects that!

  31. Hi Dr. Feser! There was an issue with the publication of my response comment-turned-post, and so the link I sent before went to a dead page. I think the post is public now. Here's the link:

    There are some formatting and bolding issues here and there, particularly with the definitions, which was an issue of copy-pasting and some things I don't understand about the blog word processor. If you want a cleaner version of the response, I can e-mail you a pdf. You can contact me at

    Also, to clarify, this is the only post on my "blog", as I'm not an established voice or presence, and only made this blog to put this comment on, since it got too long to put into comment form.

  32. Bernardo Vidal PimentelJanuary 4, 2024 at 9:19 PM

    As I also commented directly on The Pillar's interview, the part the struggles me the most from FS and Cardinal Fernandez answer is this vague and maybe distorted distinction between "couple" and "union".

    As Edward Feser and Cardinal Muller clearly explain, it's very hard to maintain that distinction.

    I believe the problem is even more clear in may native tongue, portuguese. "Casal" means "couple" and "casamento" means "wedding". "União" means "union". So, for a portuguese native speaker, "couple" is even more directly related to "wedding" than "union", both in ethymology and common language use. Maybe in Fernandez' native tongue, "pareja" is more related to a pair of two, but I'm not an expert on the language. Anyway, as Edward Feser eloquentely writes, his answer clear makes us more close to a definition where "couple" is more a kind of "union" than just a pair of two, even though he tries to (not convincingly) counterargue that.

    To finish, I am also trying (and praying) to find a connection between FS and the catholic doctrine, which I believe can be found in many parts thorough the document, as Richard De Clue defends on his recent WoF article. I hope a future document or statement will clarify this distinction and hopefully not contradict the doctrine and the 2021 document.

    With Christ in mind and hopefully in heart,

    1. "pareja" seems to have more similarity in connotation to the English term "couple" than to the Portuguese if you're talking about "una pareja", but the cognate terms are more about the "two people" by far than about the union... similar words are "par" which means a "pair" or "even", or if you say two things "son parejos", it means the two things are equal or parallel to each other.

  33. Over at X a gay man posted this about the latest clarification issued by Fernandez.

    "Honestly, it's insulting that if I asked for a blessing for me and my partner that's okay if we pretend we're just two guys who happen to be standing next to each other while blessed. F*** off!"

    I originally said FS was 5000 words of gobbledygook that basically said nothing has really changed. I feel vindicated here.

    I would say cynically this whole thing was a failed attempt by the Pope and Vatican to make it look like the Church has given something to gays by giving them nothing they didn't already offer. A prayer for grace to change their hearts and wills to conform to the Gospel and the divine will.

    I am not against that, but they screwed the poche big time here and caused grave harm & confusion.

    1. "Honestly, it's insulting that if I asked for a blessing for me and my partner that's okay if we pretend we're just two guys who happen to be standing next to each other while blessed. F*** off!

      This is exactly what I suggested would be the typical response. If a gay couple wants a blessing as a couple, and present themselves as a couple, they aren't going to "settle" for the kind of blessing that Toucho says would be right. Their whole point is to get the Church to treat them together at least partly like they want to consider themselves: together, for some good. But the reality is that the Church can either bless them for good individually, or just not bless them as together, and she cannot bless them wherein their togetherness is treated as for some good.

      And the whole business of "friendship" and "strong sense of belonging" and "mutual help" cannot be viewed as good things in the context of a sexually active gay relationship because these terms, as applied to this couple, are equivocations on real friendship and help.

  34. Since I moved to the Church - at least until recently - all the content coming from the Church was from JPII or Benedict. The difference in the solidity, in the careful and considered - yet profound and inspiring - nature of the output is very clear. I don’t think Francis or Fernandez are bad people at all. They’re just products of the 50s and 60s where the world went nuts. The ancient ‘goods’ of controlling desires, of silent discernment, of an emptying of ego towards a transcendent hope that binds all, were deliberately blackened as harmful and restrictive, out of date and against love and freedom. Even people of good will were swept up in this to come extent. Those not brought up with some grounding through the Church had no reason not to dive into the deep end of hedonism and self satisfaction at any cost. I found it quite hard first coming to the Church all those years ago, as a young adult. The idea that someone was watching and judging my every thought was terrifying. In fact I ran away from it all for a while. Once you kneel down and let go before Him, it’s the opposite and the nearer He is to you the better (although I think we’re all a bit terrified of what it would be like to see Him fully, face to face). I guess my rambling point is that there is a separation happening that makes it hard to stand in the Church and walk in the world. It’s like having one foot on land and one in the sea. Of course many in the Church wish that the Church would be a little more wavy, so that the disjoint with their friends, work colleagues and even members of the family was leas disjointed. But I don’t think that’s possible, as the waters rise the Ark of the Church will start to float and become it’s own ground. If people want to let the water in for the sake of those in the water, that’s not going to work. Instead we must help those onboard, with deep forgiveness and love no matter their state, but on condition that they give up their hole drilling ways.

    Benedict and JPII made sure the boat was sound, despite some divisive ‘rad trads’ determined to hijack the rudder and refusing their assigned cabins. Francis is focussed more on pulling onto the Ark those floundering in the water around it. It’s a good intention, maybe even at the heart of the gospel, but if in the process the Ark is turned into a cargo ship, it may not be able to sustain everyone when the winds pick up.

    Maybe Anne Catherine Emmerich’s predictions are right, and the forces released to too clever and subtle for us to really discern. We just know that the foundations are disintegrating in pernicious ways but puppets that don’t even have the tools anymore to discern the presence of the strings.

    Anyway apologies for my random later night speculation. @Dr Feser feel free not to publish this, it’s off topic and potentially a bit crazy!

    1. Doesn't sound crazy at all to me.

    2. Thanks Tony, i should at least have read it back if I was going to send it in - I’m amazed you got past all the typos!

  35. Hi Dr. Feser. I took down my previous response to your Fiducia Supplicans blogs, but then decided to put it back up. Here's the new link if you're interested!

    1. I keep messing this up. This is the link:

  36. Catholics are the original Protestants and have been in schism for almost a thousand years now. The Catholic Church has totally lost its way will be marrying gay couples and pretending that they've always supported it by the end of the century. No amount of TradCath reeing can alter that.

    You could always stop being in schism and return to the Orthodox Church, or, as it's better described, 'the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.'

  37. It’s all about perspective - the Universal (Catholic) church remained the same, under the chair of St Peter in Rome. That is the rock which Jesus placed in Peter.

    That said, presumably these schisms and divides in the Church had to happen for a reason. If there is a reason then it would seem most likely it is to give us humility?

  38. Fernandez clarified this enough. The couple itself is the object of blessing, the friendship aspect but not the sexual aspect (union), but the 2021 response still in force teaches this is morally impossible. The friendship itself is romantic and sexual in nature, by definition of being a couple, and therefore blessing it necessarily would be blessing homosexuality.

  39. We who care about the effect of FS on the faithful have a choice. We can declaim against it as teaching an acceptance of sin, an approach that gives aid and comfort to the provocateurs who will abuse it. Or being wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, we can teach that it means the most orthodox reading possible: that sexual activity outside of valid marriage is always wrong, the Church and her ministers can never signal otherwise, and yet, even as the dogs under the table may eat of the children's scraps, so too the persons in these irregular sexual unions have a route up from under their sin, a path of seeking and cooperating with God's grace.

  40. Looks like Müller reads Feser, for the win.