Thursday, December 28, 2023

German bishop in Vatican newspaper: Cardinal Fernández has developed the Church’s teaching on blessings

Five German Bishops Back Bishop's Public Criticism of Lay Statement|  National Catholic Register

The Vatican newspaper has published a commentary on Fiducia Supplicans by Bishop Stefan Oster, SDB, of Passau (Germany). 

Vatican News, the news agency of the Dicastery for Communication, subsequently republished the commentary in German.

“What changes is not the teaching on man, but rather that on blessing,” Bishop Oster wrote, as he insisted that the document does not change Catholic teaching on sexual morality. “There is one thing that Cardinal Fernández introduces as a true innovation: he develops the doctrine of blessing expressly outside of liturgical celebrations.”

Cardinal Fernández interprets a request for a blessing “theologically, as an ascending request for blessing to receive God’s grace and therefore, as a supplicant, to be able to live better,” Bishop Oster continued. 

“One can pray spontaneously and freely so that God’s will may be fulfilled in their life too. And in this sense, every person and even every couple can now be blessed.”

Bishop Oster said that the new Vatican document will be “clarifying” in Germany, as it “meets the requests for the blessing” of same-sex couples while “expressly prohibiting liturgies and rites for such blessings.” 

The document thus “could halt a trend that risks moving [the Church in Germany] away from the universal Church.”

By dissociating blessing from approval, Bishop Oster added, Cardinal Fernández has addressed an issue that was the topic of much discussion at the October 2023 Synod of Bishops. 

When the Synod meets again in October 2024, “the participants in the Synod could, according to Pope Francis’s desire, focus on what is the true principal theme: becoming a more synodal, missionary, and participatory Church.”