On February 2, 2024, 90 clergymen, scholars, and authors published a text entitled “Filial Appeal” which is addressed to the bishops and cardinals of the Church to ask them, on the one hand, to prohibit the application of the Declaration of Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (DDF) declaration Fiducia supplicans in their diocese and on the other hand to ask Pope Francis to withdraw this document.
A Catholic Appeal
This initiative has been published in several languages by various conservative Catholic sites such as LifeSiteNews, Infovaticana.com, Katholisches.info, Sandro Magister, Crisis Magazine, InfoCatolica, Edward Pentin, and others. The document remains open for signature until February 15. Infovaticana announced on February 6 that Bishop Joseph Strickland, former bishop of Tyler, Texas, added his signature.
The Appeal first notes the wave of refusals that swept across the Catholic world, particularly on the African continent. But the protest was not limited to Africa: several European bishops’ conferences – Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, France, the Netherlands – opposed it as well.
Cardinals protested more or less strongly. Other residential bishops and priestly associations have also pushed back against the Roman text. The text notes that “never in the history of the Catholic Church has a document of the Roman Magisterium experienced such a strong rejection.” Even when taking into consideration the rejection of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae.
On the contrary, the authors note that the document was very favorably received by the few episcopates and prelates who, for decades, have openly pleaded in favor of a change in the doctrine of sexual morality. Which raises questions about the orthodoxy of Fiducia supplicans (FS).
The Appeal continues by refusing the attempted “separation between doctrine and liturgy on the one hand, and pastoral practice on the other.” Their bond is essential and to separate them is to desire an impossibility, because “a blessing as such, in the universal language of humanity, always implies an approval of what is being blessed.” The result is that FS makes “the whole world” believe that irregular couples “would now be acceptable to God.”
“Nor does it make sense to separate ‘couple’ from ‘union,’ as Cardinal Victor Fernández has tried to do since a couple is a couple because of the union that gives existence to it.” It remains a fact that “a priest is imparting a blessing on two people who present themselves as a couple,” and “precisely a couple defined by its objectively sinful relationship.”
In practice, “the message that is effectively launched, and that the people of God, and the entire world, will inevitably register and are already registering, is that: The Catholic Church has finally evolved, and now accepts homosexual unions, and more generally extramarital unions.”
This is why the authors are imploring pastors to: “(1) Follow the brave example of so many brother bishops around the world: please forbid immediately the application of this document in your diocese. (2) Please ask directly the Pope to urgently withdraw this unfortunate document, which is in contradiction with both Scripture and the universal and uninterrupted Tradition of the Church and which clearly produces a serious scandal.”
A “Response” from the Pope
In an interview given to the Credere magazine, scheduled to appear in the February 8 issue, Francis returns to the question of blessings and repeats what he had already affirmed during his audience with the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, namely that he does not bless homosexual “marriage,” but “I bless two people who love each other and I also ask them to pray for me.” And he adds: “To be scandalized by such a blessing… This is hypocrisy.”
The Appeal therefore has very little chance of being heard by Francis, who does not intend to be contested.