Peruvian Bishop Escudero delivers comprehensive critique of blessing irregular couples

Monsignor Rafael Escudero Monsignor Rafael Escudero is bishop of the Territorial Prelature of Moyobamba in Peru. | Credit: EWTN Noticias

Issuing an energetic and thoroughgoing critique of Fiducia Supplicans, Bishop Rafael Escudero of Peru has ordered his priests to “not perform any form of blessing” for same-sex couples or couples in an irregular situation.

“On the day of my episcopal ordination I solemnly swore ‘to preserve the deposit of faith in purity and integrity, in accordance with the tradition always and everywhere observed in the Church since the time of the apostles. For this reason, I admonish the priests of the Prelature of Moyobamba not to perform any form of blessing for couples in an irregular situation or for same-sex couples,” the bishop of the Peruvian territorial prelature of Moyobamba explained in a pastoral message posted on the prelature’s website.

As Escudero sees it, the dicastery’s document “harms the communion of the Church, since such blessings directly and seriously contradict divine revelation and the doctrine and uninterrupted practice of the Catholic Church, including the recent magisterium of Pope Francis, which is why there are no quotations throughout the declaration that are supported by the previous magisterium.”

“In its 2021 ‘Responsum,’ the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told us with the signature of the Holy Father that ‘the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex,’” Escudero noted.

Fiducia Supplicans, released last Dec. 18, allows for “spontaneous” pastoral blessings for “same-sex couples” and other couples in “irregular situations.” It does not allow liturgical blessings for homosexual couples and establishes that pastoral blessings should not be imparted “in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them. Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding.” 

The declaration quickly elicited reactions of both welcome and rejection from bishops around the world. According to Escudero, the text has led to “unprecedented confusion” among the “clergy and many of the faithful” in his jurisdiction.

After several days of prayer and reflection, the prelate concluded that the blessing of these types of couples “is a grave abuse of the most holy name of God, which is invoked upon an objectively sinful union of fornication, adultery, or even worse, homosexual activity.”

“Furthermore, in the final instance it must be emphasized that ‘homosexual acts are disordered and, above all, contrary to natural law’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357). God never blesses sin. God does not contradict himself. God does not lie to us. God, who always loves the sinner unconditionally, therefore seeks that he repent, be converted, and live,” the bishop declared.

According to Escudero, “blessing a couple” is the same as “blessing the union that exists between them,” since “there is no logical, real way to separate the one thing from the other. Why else would they ask for a blessing together and not two separate blessings?”

For the bishop of Moyobamba, the problem is even more serious, inasmuch as some bishops and priests, “contravening the objective morality of sacred Scripture and sacred tradition, have been confusing the people of God for a long time with the indiscriminate blessing of these objectively disordered and therefore sinful unions, committing horrendous sacrilege.”

Escudero not only ordered his priests to not give a blessing to couples of the same sex or in an irregular situation but also exhorted them to continue “to follow the uninterrupted praxis of the Church to date, which is to bless every person who asks for a blessing.”

“We will avoid all scandal, confusion, inducement into sin, and at the same time we will continue to show the mercy that the Church has always shown to every sinner who approaches her, above all, offering conversion, forgiveness, the life of grace and eternal life. The Church blesses sinners, but never their sin or their sinful relationship,” he emphasized.

Therefore, Escudero continued, the clergy, out of “pastoral charity,” have the duty to call those who are in sinful situations to conversion.

“Any sincerely repentant sinner with the firm intention to stop sinning and put an end to his public situation of sin (such as, for example, cohabitation outside a canonically valid marriage or a same-sex union), can receive a blessing and even better, sacramental absolution and holy Communion,” he explained.

Escudero also asked priests and laypeople not to minimize “the destructive and short-range consequences resulting from this effort made by some Church hierarchs to legitimize such blessings.”

Finally, he “cordially and paternally exhorted those persons who feel same-sex attraction or live in a homosexual or irregular union to come closer to Christ through prayer, listening to the word, fasting, penance, and the help of the Virgin Mary with a view to conversion, to take advantage of the opportunity for conversion that God offers them for a happier life and to obtain eternal life.”

“Likewise, I urge the priests and faithful of the prelature to continue cultivating their filial union with the current pontiff of the holy Church of God, Pope Francis, with those who preceded him and with those who will come after him. This communion is what moves me” to write this pastoral letter, he concluded.

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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