After Pope Francis issued a new declaration Monday that same-sex couples could receive blessings from Catholic priests and bishops, San Francisco's notoriously conservative archbishop Salvatore Cordileone issued his own terse response.
Pope Francis surprised many with his new guidance this week about the treatment of same-sex couples in the Catholic church, in yet another of several moves he's made to show that LGBTQ+ people may be embraced by the faith. The pope's declaration made clear that while priests should be free to offer blessings to same-sex couples in private meetings or other scenarios, these blessings should not, to avoid confusion, be performed in conjunction with any rite or ceremony like a civil union.
The Vatican's head of the office of doctrine, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, gave an introduction to the pope's declaration Monday, as the New York Times reports. In it, Cardinal Fernández called this "a real development" and an "innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings."
But, he said, the declaration does not change "the traditional doctrine of the church about marriage."
The introduction further said that one should "understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the church’s perennial teaching on marriage."
While he has not made an outright, public refusal yet, one can imagine that Archbishop Cordileone is not going to be performing any such blessings himself. As the Chronicle notes today, this is the guy who helped lead the charge on Prop 8, and in 2012 called same-sex marriage, "the ultimate attack of the Evil One."
He has no doubt not budged in his stance, and he has proven time and again that he cares little for this pope or his opinions. Even as Pope Francis was encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID two years ago as a "moral obligation," Cordileone was taking the road of conspiracy theorists and right-wing radio pundits, claiming he had naturally "strong immunity" on his own. (We do not know if he procured ivermectin, however.)
His statement on the blessings doctrine is a study in diplomacy, while making fairly clear that he feels no love for gay relationships.
"I encourage those who have questions to read the Vatican declaration closely, and in continuity with the Church’s unchanging teaching," Cordileone said in his statement. "Doing so will enable one to understand how it encourages pastoral solicitude while maintaining fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ."
The phrase "pastoral solicitude" seems to be Cordileone's, but the pope's declaration seems to have more generous phrasing. While it does, indeed, stop short of saying that same-sex marriages should be formally sanctioned, it tries to carve out space for those who are in them to be embraced.
"In order to help us understand the value of a more pastoral approach to blessings, Pope Francis urges us to contemplate, with an attitude of faith and fatherly mercy, the fact that 'when one asks for a blessing, one is expressing a petition for God’s assistance, a plea to live better, and confidence in a Father who can help us live better,'" the declaration reads.
There have long been more liberal and more conservative factions among the leaders of the Catholic church, and it's well known that Pope Francis and Archibishop Cordileone fall in opposite camps. It is sort of baffling that, under a more conservative pope, Cordileone was assigned to one of the most LGBTQ-friendly regions in the world, during a time when same-sex marriage was front-and-center in politics. But he was, and he's still here, and he's still fond of things that put him in the spotlight — like when he declared last year that Nancy Pelosi should not receive communion due to her stance on abortion.
Nearly a year later, in March of this year, Pelosi made some withering comments about Cordileone, saying, "Every parade against women honoring their own sense of responsibility or LGBTQ, he leads. And so he’s made it very clear, maybe we’re not all god’s children."
Sidebar: Elon Musk loves a good villain, so how come Cordileone can't get this phony Xitter account that's impersonating him removed?