EUROPE/RUSSIA - Document of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate in response to the Declaration "Fiducia supplicans"

Wednesday, 27 March 2024 oriental churches   ecumenicalism   moral doctrine

Moscow (Agenzia Fides) - On March 25 the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate published a document entitled "On the Orthodox attitude towards the new practice of blessing 'couples in an irregular situation and same-sex couples' in the Roman Catholic Church ". The text, written at the request of Patriarch Kirill by the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission, chaired by Ilarion (Alfeev), Metropolitan of Budapest and Hungary, presents some considerations in response to the declaration Fiducia supplicans, published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 18, 2023.
"The ideas expressed in the declaration 'Fiducia supplicans' represent a significant departure from Christian moral teaching and require theological analysis," reads the introduction to the Synodal Commission document. The first part of the text, entitled "On the 'classical' and 'expanded' meaning of the blessing in this document", starting from the considerations contained in paragraphs 12 and 13 of Fiducia supplicans, states: "God's love for Man cannot be the basis for blessing couples in sinful coexistence. God loves man, but also calls him to perfection: 'Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (Mt 5:48). "God's love for man calls him to turn away from the sin that destroys his life. Consequently, pastoral care must harmoniously combine the clear indication of the inadmissibility of a sinful lifestyle with the love that leads to repentance." And later he continues: "The declaration does not say anything about fighting against sin, renouncing sinful lifestyles or pastorally helping the believer to overcome sin.
The text of the declaration is worded in such a way that it can be deduced that a style of sinful life is not an obstacle to communion with God. The declaration (Fiducia supplicans, n.d.A.) is absolutely silent on the sacrament of Penance as a necessary source of divine grace for all those who wish to correct everything in their life that does not conform to the will of God." Furthermore, the Commission observes that in the document in question the expression "same-sex couples" appears differentiated from the expression "irregular couples", without the latter being defined in the text. The second part of the text published by the Synodal Commission, entitled "On the blessing 'of same-sex couples'", emphasizes that the definition of marriage contained in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the declaration Fiducia supplicans is in accordance with Orthodox teaching ("see the document of the Russian Orthodox Church 'On the canonical aspects of Christian marriage'"). At the same time, the Synodal Commission affirms that Fiducia supplicans declares the possibility of blessing same-sex couples, which is antithetical to Christian morality, and which in fact equates them to the extramarital cohabitation of heterosexual couples. "Note also - the text reads - that those who are in a sinful union are called 'indigents', as if the moral defect did not imply a conscious and free choice on their part. The attention is shifted from the fact that the sinner has made a moral decision to the destitute nature of his situation. In 'Fiducia supplicans' the definition of 'homosexual cohabitation' as sinful is missing." Moving on to the analysis of the practical recommendations on how these blessings should take place, that is, spontaneously, non-ritualized and briefly, the Synodal Commission describes them as "no less ambiguous than the theological positions from which they derive": "As suggests the document (Fiducia supplians, n.d.A.), the danger is not that the blessing of these couples appears as the approval of a cohabitation that is not licit from the point of view of the Church, but only that, in the event that performed in a manner similar to established liturgical forms, lends unnecessary formalism to an act that is thought to be 'spontaneous.'" The third part of the document ("Reactions to the Declaration in the Catholic world") is dedicated to the resonance that the Fiducia suplicans declaration has had in the Catholic Church. In the conclusions of the document presented by the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission we read: "The unilateral and incomplete understanding of God's love for man that is deduced from this statement is theologically dangerous. In this interpretation, the concepts of sin and repentance are effectively removed from the relationship between God and man, leading to a paradoxical logic whereby people in sinful relationships turn not to repentance and spiritual work, but to some form of blessing in the hope of receiving 'healing' and 'elevation'. However, the statement does not articulate the fact that 'healing' and 'elevation' must be preceded by at least the intention to renounce sinful relationships. In the context of ongoing processes in the Christian community, this document can be perceived as a step towards full recognition by the Roman Catholic Church of 'same-sex unions' as a norm, something that has already happened in some Protestant communities. All believers, including those with homosexual tendencies, need pastoral care. However, such pastoral care should not aim to legitimize a sinful lifestyle, but rather to heal the souls of those who suffer, as is well written in the 'Foundations of the Social Doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church' (...). Although the declaration 'Fiducia supplicans' is an internal document of the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church considers it its duty to respond to such radical innovations that reject the divinely revealed norms of Christian morality. The Church, which welcomes with maternal love and indulgence every sinner who asks for her blessing, cannot in any way bless 'same-sex couples', since this would mean the Church's de facto consent to a union of a sinful nature. ". At the same time, the Department of Foreign Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate has published on its official website a note in which it presents the document drafted by the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission and refers to the full text. According to the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission in a note dated February 20, during the plenary session of that day, the members of the Commission had unanimously expressed a negative opinion on the declaration Fiducia supplicans, which they had examined at the request of Patriarch Kirill. (CD) (Agenzia Fides, 27/3/2024)