Portland archbishop thanks pope for Vatican ‘no’ to same-sex blessings

CNA—Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland in Oregon on Tuesday thanked Pope Francis for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent affirmation of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the human person.

“I would like to express gratitude to the Holy Father for the recent statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” Archbishop Sample said March 23.

“All persons are created in the image and likeness of God, have an inherent human dignity, and are worthy of our love and pastoral care. At the same time there are certain actions and relationships (in this case same-sex unions) that cannot be blessed by the Church.”

The CDF’s March 15 statement

He reflected that the CDF’s March 15 statement that the Church hasn’t the power to bless same-sex unions “is simply a reaffirmation of the Church’s constant teaching.”

This, Archbishop Sample explained, “is not a matter of discrimination but of honoring the truth of the human person and the dignity of marriage itself.”

“I realize this is an unpopular truth as evidenced by the response by many to this statement, which was approved by Pope Francis.”

For example, more than 200 professors of theology in the German-speaking world have signed a statement criticizing the CDF’s rejection of blessings for same-sex couples, and Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg has voiced support for the blessing of same-sex unions.

Nevertheless, Archbishop Sample said, a clarification like that offered by the CDF “is important today when there is so much confusion about what is for our authentic good and how to draw closer to Christ.”

Gratitude for Pope’s clarity on the matter

He reiterated his gratitude “for the Church’s clear teaching on this matter” and prayed “that this will be a unique moment of grace for the life of the Church.”

“As we approach Holy Week and Easter, I pray that all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, will be renewed by a life-giving and transformative encounter with the crucified and risen Savior.”

Bishops Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg and Stefan Oster of Passau have also welcomed the CDF’s response.

And Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has said, regarding schismatic tendencies in the ‘synodal way’ of the Church in Germany, “it would be better for Rome to reassert clearly the doctrinal parameters, as in yesterday’s CDF statement about same-sex unions.”

“The pope himself needs to intervene by giving authoritative teaching: this is the role of the Petrine ministry. He should also summon the German bishops to Rome and lay down more clearly for them an appropriate methodology.”

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