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Tags: pope francis | same-sex couples | catholic | theologians

Pope Francis Gay Edict Poses Danger to Church's Future, Leaders Say

By    |   Wednesday, 20 December 2023 04:02 PM EST

The Vatican’s declaration last week that priests can offer “blessings” for same-sex couples continues to draw a sharp rebuke from Catholic theologians and leaders who consider Pope Francis’ latest leftward lurch a seismic shift in the Church’s doctrine.

Some media reports have cast the Papal edict as nothing really new, and certainly nothing the faithful should be concerned about.

But Father James Martin, a Jesuit who had the Pope’s ear and has been a strong advocate of same-sex marriage, tweeted that the document signals a “significant change.”

He posted on social media platform X to be “wary of the ‘nothing has changed’ response.”

“It's a significant change,” he wrote. “In short, yesterday, as a priest, I was forbidden to bless same-sex couples at all. Today, with some limitations, I can.”

While the Vatican document says same-sex benedictions must be kept separate from marriage, the new document explicitly approves Catholic priests blessing gay unions and stresses it should be done without moralizing.

The latest move is no surprise to Francis’ watchers, who have tracked his left-leaning moves.

Francis famously asked, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay priests.

He has also invited LGBTQ+ advocates to the Vatican, backed laws for same-sex civil unions, and, most recently, backed allowing transgender individuals to be baptized and to serve as godparents, without any discussion of their status with the church.

Still, his latest move to embrace gay civil unions has flummoxed many theologians and church leaders.

Theologian Father Thomas Weinandy, OFM, Cap., denounced the latest declaration as a “charade.”

“To bless couples in irregular marriages or same-sex couples without giving the impression that the Church is not validating their sexual activity is a charade,” he wrote in a column published in “The Catholic Thing.”

Weinandy noted that “no one is fooled” into thinking these relationships are not “sexual in nature” and the LGBTQ+ community is “rejoicing that such sexual relations are being blessed.”

The Rev. Gerald Murray of the Archdiocese of New York told Newsmax that the new declaration was “absurd” and “horrific."

During an appearance on Newsmax’s “Wake Up America,” Father Murray noted that the church since the beginning of Christianity has held that any sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful.

Murray said the problem with the Vatican document is that it says it is “no big deal” to commit “mortal sin.”

In fact, the Church can now “bless you” for doing so, he said.

Catholic writer John Zmirak agrees. He had said the Pope’s declaration poses a danger for the church.

“Pope Francis has thrown the institution of the papacy itself into the deepest doubt for serious Catholics,” Zmirak, a senior editor of The Stream, told the Washington Times.

He called approving the blessings for same-sex couples a practice that will “amount to gay Catholic weddings.”

Zmirak also predicts that U.S. courts will soon “fine priests unwilling to offer fabulous ceremonies for well-heeled, litigious gay couples.”

“Every Catholic pastor now faces the fate of those Christian wedding planners and bakers who were targeted by lawsuits,” he said, noting that it’s likely that litigants will win “big settlements from hapless, faithful pastors, by citing Pope Francis’ document.”

Even though the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) pointed out that the same-sex blessings were pastoral and not liturgical or sacramental, critics of the decision say they will be viewed as an approval of same-sex couples.

The Vatican document stated that “one can understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.”

But Murray notes that a blessing in itself is a sign that the person is acting in the right way.

The USCBB’s statement on the document reiterated that the “church’s teaching on marriage has not changed, and this declaration affirms that, while also making an effort to accompany people through the imparting of pastoral blessings because each of us needs God’s healing love and mercy in our lives.”

But Larry Chapp, a contributor to the National Catholic Register newspaper and the author of “Confession of a Catholic Worker,” told the Washington Times that the move will be seen as “greenlighting the blessing of same-sex couples precisely as same-sex couples, or any couple that’s just cohabitating outside of marriage who comes forward for a blessing or something.”

Eric Sammons, editor of Crisis Magazine, an online Catholic publication, told the outlet the declaration creates “scandal and confusion.”

He argued that the move creates an “artificial divide between what Catholics believe and how they live, pretending that blessing same-sex couples will remain distinct in the minds of the ordinary Catholics from sacramental marriages.”

“The practical effect is that more and more Catholics will continue to lose faith in the Church, as its leaders seem desperate to find acceptance from the world instead of from the Lord,” Sammons said.

Catholic outlet LifeSite News said the decision was in direct “contradiction to the unchangeable Catholic teaching that the Church cannot bless sinful relations.”

Traditional Catholics weren’t the only ones outraged by the move.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., called the declaration a “theological disaster” on his “The Briefing” podcast.

“In particular, it’s a disaster because the impact of this on the larger culture is going to be to add momentum to the very forces that are tearing apart gender, tearing apart sexuality, tearing apart civilization, tearing apart marriage,” Mohler said.

In a follow-up column at World Opinions, he noted, “This new doctrine and policy will not placate the liberals, who will not be satisfied until the Catholic Church affirms and priests perform same-sex marriages.”

“Evangelical Christians must respond by holding fast to biblical truth soberly, joyfully, seriously, and steadfastly,” Mohler added.

Religious leaders weren’t the only ones frustrated by the same-sex blessing decision.

Newsweek published an article, “Pope Francis Slammed for Blessing Same-Sex Couples: ‘Blasphemy,’” that highlighted criticism lodged by lay Catholics.

“Pope Francis’ Christmas gift to the church was finally confirming that he is a heretic and quite likely an antipope,” wrote X user Nathaniel Eliason, whose bio describes him as Catholic. “He must be opposed completely now, and any bishop who doesn’t is complicit.”

Another Catholic X user wrote that he prays that Francis’ papacy is “soon over and this blasphemy comes to an end.”

Another social media poster identified as Larry D. Jones Jr. wrote that the “Vatican has fallen!”

Marisa Herman

Marisa Herman, a Newsmax senior reporter, focuses on major and investigative stories. A University of Florida graduate, she has more than a decade of experience as a reporter for newspapers, magazines, and websites.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Newsfront
The Vatican's declaration last week that priests can offer "blessings" for same-sex couples continues to draw a sharp rebuke from Catholic theologians and leaders who consider Pope Francis' latest leftward lurch a seismic shift in the Church's doctrine. Some media reports...
pope francis, same-sex couples, catholic, theologians
1076
2023-02-20
Wednesday, 20 December 2023 04:02 PM
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