Cardinal Hollerich: Church blessings for same-sex unions not a settled matter

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, relator general of the Synod of Bishops, speaks at a news conference to present an update on the synod process at the Vatican Aug. 26, 2022. Looking on is Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the synod. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2022 / 11:05 am (CNA).

In an interview with Vatican media, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., said he believes Church blessings for same-sex unions, which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ruled against, is not a settled matter.

The cardinal’s answer came in response to an interview question about the decision last month by Belgium’s Catholic bishops to support the possibility of blessings for unions of same-sex couples — in defiance of the Vatican.

“Frankly, the question does not seem decisive to me,” Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg, told L’Osservatore Romano in an interview also published on Vatican News Oct. 24.

The Vatican’s doctrine office weighed in on the issue in March 2021, clarifying that the Church does not have the power to bless the unions of same-sex couples.

In defiance of this declaration, Catholic bishops in Belgium published Sept. 20 a text for blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples in their dioceses. The bishops of Flanders — the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium — also published a liturgy for the celebration of homosexual unions.

In the interview, Cardinal Hollerich pointed to the etymology of the Italian words for “to bless” and “to curse”: benedire and maledire.

“If we stay with the etymology of ‘bene-dire,’ [‘say good’] do you think God could ever ‘dire-male’ [say bad] about two people who love each other?” Hollerich said.

“I would be more interested in discussing other aspects of the problem,” he continued. “For example: what is the conspicuous growth of homosexual orientation in society driven by? Or why is the percentage of homosexuals in ecclesial institutions higher than in civil society?”

The cardinal did not cite any source for the claim that there are more people with same-sex orientation in Church institutions than in civil society.

Hollerich is also president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union and relator general of the Synod on Synodality.

The cardinal specified that he does not think “there is room for a sacramental marriage between persons of the same sex,” because same-sex unions lack the procreative character of marriage.

“But that does not mean that their affective relationship has no value,” he added.

“Pope Francis often recalls the need for theology to be able to originate and develop from human experience, and not remain the fruit of academic elaboration alone,” he said. “Then, so many of our brothers and sisters tell us that, whatever the origin and cause of their sexual orientation, they certainly did not choose it. They are not ‘bad apples.’ They are also fruits of creation.”

The archbishop of Luxembourg also said he has a lot of contact with young people in his ministry, and “for young people today, the highest value is nondiscrimination.”

“[What] I constantly see is that young people stop considering the Gospel, if they have the impression that we are discriminating,” he said, recalling a recent encounter with a woman in her 20s who said she wanted to leave the Church because it does not welcome homosexual couples.

“I asked her ‘do you feel discriminated against because you are homosexual?’ and she said ‘No, no! I am not a lesbian, but my closest friend is. I know her suffering, and I don’t intend to be part of those who judge her.’ That made me think a lot,” Hollerich said.

“Everyone is called. No one is excluded: even the divorced and remarried, even homosexuals, everyone. The kingdom of God is not an exclusive club. It opens its doors to everyone, without discrimination,” the cardinal said.

“Sometimes in the Church the accessibility of these groups to the kingdom of God is discussed. And this creates the perception of exclusion in a part of the people of God. They feel excluded and this is not just! Here it is not a question of theological subtleties or ethical dissertations: here it is simply a matter of affirming that the message of Christ is for everyone!”

In 2021, answering the question “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith responded, “negative.”

Blessings are sacramentals, the Vatican explained, and “when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation and fully revealed by Christ the Lord.”

However, basing their argument on Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Cardinal Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels and other bishops of the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium on Sept. 20 published a document titled “Being pastorally close to homosexual persons — for a welcoming Church that excludes no one.”

The bishops of Belgium will meet with Pope Francis and other Vatican officials, including the head of the doctrine office, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, at the end of November.

Postponed several times, this meeting, known as an ad limina, will be the Belgian bishops’ first since 2010.

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  1. Cardinal Hollerich asks why the “conspicuous growth” of homosexuals in society. A good question for any who actually think, since homosexuals are not likely to reproduce…

    The bisexual and famous writer, Andre Gide, offers a clue. Harold March examines his life (“Gide and the Hound of Heaven,” 1952): Gide was opposed to sexual license, and favored self-control and “sublimating sexual energy into desirable moral and artistic qualities.” Nevertheless, Gide,

    “…emphatically protests that he has not a word to say against marriage and reproduction (but then) suggests that it would be of benefit to an adolescent, before his desires are fixed, to have a love affair with an older man, instead of with a woman. . . the general principle admitted by Gide, elsewhere in his treatise, that sexual practice tends to stabilize in the direction where it has first found satisfaction; to inoculate a youth with homosexual tastes seems an odd way to prepare him for matrimony.”

    “Stabilize,” as in locked-in. As in the grooming thing; the culture of sexual experimentation thing; the sexual abuse thing; the absent father thing. Butt, rather than telling the truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) and working toward healing, better, now, for eroding society to simply redefine “marriage”! And, of course, for the feckless Hollerich & Co. to groom the Church to bless such a parody (not parity)—thereby ensuring that the affliction spreads ever more widely from one generation to the next. The midgets are in charge.

    And, about the science of the genome versus the slippery path of choice, this: And, also, about other science, a modernday and tragic interference in fetal development: endocrine disruptive chemicals (EDCs). The new scientific question (still a question) is whether fetal absorption of EDCs (endocrine disruptive chemicals) can block normal hormonal development toward physically/emotionally integrated male and female children at birth? (Chemicals associated with endocrine-disrupting ability in humans include organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, bisphenol A, phthalates, dioxins, and furans.)

    In any event, true compassion, and sound “moral theology” (what’s that?) prohibiting sexual activity outside of real marriage still applies equally to all—for the multiply victimized no less than for binary/complementary males and females.

    • I find homosexuality repulsive. I believe it is demonic. Perhaps the Cardinal is unfamiliar with Romans when he wonders why the sin of perversion is increasing. And by what logic does an increase in sin require the Church to justify it?
      in Rome.m

      II. Humanity Lost without the Gospel

      God’s Power for Salvation.*
      For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.n
      For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;* as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.”o

      Punishment of Idolaters.
      * The wrath* of God* is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickednessp of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
      For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.q
      Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.r As a result, they have no excuse;
      for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.s
      While claiming to be wise,t they became fools
      and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.u

      Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts* for the mutual degradation of their bodies.v
      They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.w
      Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
      and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.x
      And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.
      y They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips
      and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents.
      They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
      Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.z

      • I don’t think he’s unfamiliar; I think he’s indifferent.

        And why am I not surprised to find “S.J” after his name?

    • It’s much worse. Every event that tells the world that the Church is just arbitrarily making up moral precepts as it goes along, it tells the world that the unborn are expendable because nothing is really absolute in Catholicism.

  2. “Everyone is called. No one is excluded: even the divorced and remarried, even homosexuals, everyone.”

    — Hollerich

    Um, right. If nondiscrimination is the supreme value of young people today, as Hollerich stated it is, then doesn’t that mean that people who discriminate against others are being discriminated against?

    And what about those who reverence the Latin Mass?

    Or those who believe that Jesus’ words ought to actually be heeded?

    It makes no sense. Cartoon thinking.

    Jesus deserves so much better than this Church, who is hiding His Light under the bushel that is leftism.

  3. “If we stay with the etymology of ‘bene-dire,’ [‘say good’] do you think God could ever ‘dire-male’ [say bad] about two people who love each other?” (Card Hollerich SJ).
    It’s a common argument. That if a relationship is benign, no one harmed, and they’re happy, it’s a good. I was posed that question, “If they’re very happy with each other, don’t injure anyone then what is the issue?”. Happiness doesn’t determine good or evil. God does.
    ‘Conspicuous’ spread of homosexuality certainly is not a logical affirmative response. Hannah Brockhaus CNA notes Hollerich doesn’t take up the issue why there allegedly are more homosexuals in Church institutions than in civil society [she said he didn’t cite sources]. Although, whether or not it’s proved true, we know bishops with empathy for homosexuals have allowed access. The priesthood is [as are most all male institutions] a favorable setting.
    Blessing of such unions by the Church simply is an endorsement of a disorder that has been traditionally condemned by the Church as well as in Jewish Biblical tradition, the latter harshly penalizing the practice. Christ and the Apostles confirm the ancient Jewish condemnation.
    It’s the Roman pontiff’s responsibility to reaffirm traditional doctrine. If he doesn’t then bishops must. Moral evil is contagious as are all moral disorders. Christ instituted his Mystical Body in the World, the Church, to order human behavior as ordained by God, never for any reason to bless a grievous disorder, and thereby approve it.
    Many, perhaps most know the reasons for rejecting same sex unions as well as not blessing them. Although not all. And many are in doubt now that Cardinals even a Roman pontiff raises the issue as questionable.
    Perennial Magisterial doctrine that condemn adultery, same sex relations, false witness et al cannot change because such doctrine identify grievous sin, and affirm God’s order of nature and moral [natural] law.

    • “If we stay with the etymology of ‘bene-dire,’ [‘say good’] do you think God could ever ‘dire-male’ [say bad] about two people who love each other?” (Card Hollerich SJ). Word games are also an Islamic device of rationalization…

      As when Muslim scholars report that the Greek Bible erred in recording Christ’s reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit, the “Paraclete” and the Comforter (Jn 14:15-17, 14:26, and 16:12, 13, 17)–a term which Muslim scholars hold is a substitute for the original “Periclyte,” the Greek form of Ahmad or Muhammad.

      Presto, the incarnate Jesus Christ is only a prophet foretelling the final prophet. Likewise, Holler-ick and his own fondling of etymology.

    • Happiness as a moral argument is a clearly a consequentialist argument, self-evident to anyone not a Jesuit. What sin is not committed with happiness in mind? What sin is not committed with the self-worshiping notion that we know better than God what the effects of our actions will cause? What theological sin of pride is not committed without ignoring the previous two questions?

      Pope Francis makes claims of disdain for abortion. But there is reason to doubt a man who praises fanatical abortionists and characterizes urgent concern as obsessive. He has never demonstrated any rational ability to draw a connection between illicit sex and inconvenient pregnancies and the dehumanization of all life when he blames the latter on free economies. The non-child bearing activities of gays originate or lead to distortions of thought and corruptions of values to where 98 percent support abortion. When has any prelate mentioned this? How do we account for exponential decreases in common sense in the episcopate?

      • Edward. It’s long held that reason has suffered due to the fall and original sin. Our reason, its consistency of direction apparently blurred and diverted due to interfering, adverse predilections. That may account for the episcopate, which certainly is not disaffected by the general spiritual malaise.

        • My comments are not in the slightest critical of yours Father, which I always hold in high regard. My lament is just an elaborating reflection.

          • My response Edward wasn’t due to any sense of my being criticized. To the contrary, I agree with your remarks on happiness. My intent was an affirmation.

  4. Jesus commands us that the 2 “eminence’s” in the photo, Cardinals Hollerich and Grech, are to be confronted about their moral apostasy and corrected, and if they do not submit to the Law of Christ, they are to be shunned.

    Likewise St. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 5.

    We should not permit these men to speak to the Church, and especially forbid them to speak to our children and young adults, because these men are living in darkness, and do not serve The Lord, they serve the poisonous spirit of “The Tide Ghost.” (Hat-Tip to a commenter at Fr. Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment” for that ominous translation of The Zeitgeist).

  5. Tagle flocking for the China sellout, Hollerich trying to normalize homo “marriage”, Francis busy naming pro-abortion ideologues to the PLA – my, our Jesuit overlords are quite active these days! A dying order that should have been suppressed forty years ago has attained more power than anyone could have imagined in 2012. And they (and their many allies) are determined not to waste the opportunity. Again, where is everyone else?

    • The above is not intended to be a condemnation all Jesuits past and present, of course. Even today, there are some who are a credit to the Church, not the least of whom is the founder of Ignatius Press and this very excellent publication.

  6. ‘“If we stay with the etymology of ‘bene-dire,’ [‘say good’] do you think God could ever ‘dire-male’ [say bad] about two people who love each other?” Hollerich said.’

    I wonder: since when does the fact that I do not bless someone automatically mean that I curse this person? Or when I don’t say something good (about someone), it automatically means I am saying something bad?

    To love means to will the good of the other, which means that we do not bless sin, nor curse the sinner, but love the sinner and call him to repentance. There are more possibilities than only blessing or cursing in this world!

  7. There are 7 places in the Bible (Old and New Testament) where it specifically states that God detests and deplores two men who join together How then could the church sanctify same sex marriage? Love the sinner but hate the sin.

  8. Duco above – Flanders may be the correct (historic) name of northern Belgium but I don’t know anyone who calls it that today. Granted, there are two provinces called Flanders (East and West). When my mother said, “They came from the Vlaanderen”, that area is what she was referring to.

    • Well, the days of John the Baptist at least. He lost his head defending the truth about marriage. We can lose our jobs for doing the same. I guess we should be grateful it’s only our livelihoods & not our lives.

  9. Flanders (= Vlaanderen) is the historic name of the county of Flanders, making up the contemporary provinces of East and West Flanders, with as respective capitals Ghent and Bruges (and actually some parts of what is now France and the Netherlands as well). Nowadays (not historically though) it is also the official name of the Northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (making up [parts of] the historic regions of Flanders, Brabant and some parts of the old prince-bishopric of Liège I think [the modern province of Limburg]). It literally has its own government (within the federal state of Belgium)! I lived for ten years in Flanders (I myself am from the Netherlands) and literally everyone there (and in the Netherlands as well) refers to the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium as Flanders (Vlaanderen), as is the official name of the state within the Belgian federation (here the official website of the Flemish government: True, they could also refer to East- and West-Flanders as Vlaanderen (which historically makes indeed more sense) but they definitely do refer to the entire Dutch-speaking region as Flanders as well. Maybe English-speakers do not often refer to it like that (I don’t know, I am not a native English-speaker), but contemporary Dutch-speakers definitely do (though there might be a difference with those whose experience is primarily of Belgium before the state reforms beginning in 1970, though there definitely was a Flemish movement before that time). I can indeed agree though that historically it might make more sense to refer to it as Northern or Dutch-speaking Belgium (as it would make a distinction with the actual historical county and region of Flanders – Flemish Belgium as you suggest, however, would – through the adjective Flemish – still refer to Flanders), but according to the contemporary political geography and cultural identity of the people living there Flanders is definitely correct.

  10. As the great Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka Edith Stein) made very clear with indeed the insight of saint:

    “Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”

    Any man who TRULY loves another man never even considers engaging in sexual intimacy of any kind with another man as that activity is reserved solely and exclusively for a husband (male only) and his wife (female only) in the matrimonial bond with no exceptions. In like manner, any woman who TRULY loves another woman never even considers engaging in sexual intimacy of any kind with another woman as that activity is reserved solely and exclusively for a husband (male only) and his wife (female only) in the matrimonial bond with no exceptions.

    Moreover, in the Church it is also recognized that the marital bond represents in a unique way the union of Christ with his bride (Not “his husband”) the Church. As such, no same sex union of any kind can properly represent Christ’s union with the Church.

    Accordingly, any cardinal, bishop, or priest who in any way blesses or approves sexual intimacy between men and men or between women and women sins egregiously against these people by leading them further astray. He also sins directly against Christ by even suggesting that Christ approves the immoral behavior wrongly declared to be just another form of sexual love when all it really is is a form of mutual masturbation sinfully engaged in by two selfish people.

  11. Jean-Claude says the question (blessing those who wish blessing because they love sodomy) is not decisive for him. The question may not be decided as the man would wish, but the answer is clear to those with the Holy Spirit’s bestowed gifts of foundational faith, knowledge, prudence, understanding and piety.

    IOW, the disciple of Christ, through the Spirit’s gifts, is provided with basic common sense, and an understanding and desire to live and see others live lives of sound and blessed morality.

    Scripture warns against God’s vengeance for the sins of sodomy. Yet some hard-headed clowns refuse to love the Church, refuse to honor Christ, and continue interminably to espouse wrong-headed and immoral thinking. May God deal with these as they deserve, particularly since the pope will not.

  12. Duco again – I’ll try to remember all that.
    However, I speak as a Canadian English speaker (Belgian-born). In my experience, most people are surprised to learn that Belgium has two main language groups. I don’t see the point of confusing them further by throwing in the name, Flanders, that they won’t even find on the map.

    • Fair enough, though I notice that in this article the name Flanders is accompanied by the clarification “the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium,” which seems to me to be a clear explanation to those not familiar with the term. I indeed do not have this problem, as Flanders is on maps in Belgium and the Netherlands;-)

  13. He does not belong in the Church. Men of his ilk try to destroy the church and remake it into their own depraved mindset. The church loses creditability because Papa fails to uphold the dignity of what is commanded.

    Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

    Jesus said that He came to do the will of His father in heaven. There are those who despise this fact. They have no business in the church. Depraved behaviour and condoning such shows one has no communion with the Lord Jesus.

    The time for talk is long past, one may ask where is Papa’s heart on the matter!

  14. A future Pope should purge the Jesuit Order of all Sodomites and Eco-Marxists. It will solve a significant portion of the Catholic Church’s problems in respect of doctrinal heterodoxy.

  15. One of the basic tenets and commandments of the Holy Roman Catholic Church is that sex is allowed only between a married couple, man and woman.
    What is hard to understand about that?

  16. Duco again – Sorry. I think I got a little snarky in my last comment. I already have a map of Belgium but it’s not the kind that would show the name Flanders. I’m sure I have a map of Holland too but I’d have to go hunting for it. I’m not sure I’ll make it back to Belgium. My parents’ generation is gone and ties are getting thinner. On the other hand, I’d like to see the da Vinci Last Supper near Lier and Rubens’ Crucifiction in Antwerp, which Brad Miner had an amazing description of in The Catholic Thing. And you are quite right. The article did explain it was the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. (Make that the Flemish-speaking part!) Cheeers!

  17. The dilemma of the woman who told the Cdnl that she did not want to attend church since it might make her friend feel discriminated – similar excuses such as how such and such a family attend church, stll having problems etc : are not uncommon .

    The need to work through issues with trusting patience as the challenge faced by most- heard encouraged in the sessions by Rev.Msgr Rossetti – including the prayers to heal Father wounds in this session –

    and the related blog article –

    ‘ Blessing ‘ a situation that calls forth healing and deliverance – would it not be worse than the occasion when the boy with the epilepsy is brought to The Lord, his frustrated father telling on the disciples who could not cast out the demon which in turn brought indignation in our Lord -‘how long should I put up with you ‘ – would similar indignation be what is invited , in heeding to the words of those who value relationship with a friend more than to The Lord and His Church !

    Hope the gratitude to make use of the weapons for wafare to deal with all situations of idolatry and generational spirits would bring speedy fidelity to make use of same to heal the culture as a whole .

    St.John Paul 11 said to have mentioned how one look from a person possessed of evil can cast its spell , how such was the reason for the wild fire spread of Nazi evil in Germany – true , there could have been long simmering fires of deep hatreds underneath same ..

    And we have a powerful antidote – describing how one look from The Lord can bring the Divine into the depths ( when one is in a state of calm and grace )

    The blessings promised through the Divine Mercy image may be in the above realm –

    May Germany and all similar lands and persons afflicted in various manner be also places that return to The Lord through His Mother , bringing the joy of repentance to all of heaven !
    FIAT !

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