Cardinal Zen Warns of ‘Error’ in Fiducia Supplicans, Calls for Cdl. Fernández To Resign

HONG KONG — Joseph Cardinal Zen has joined his voice to those opposing Fiducia Supplicans, calling for the text’s author, Cardinal Victor Fernández, to resign or be dismissed.

Writing on his personal website January 21, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong issued his response to Fiducia Supplicans and its subsequent January 4 press release, both of which were authored by Cardinal Fernández, the new prefect of the Congregation (Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“The Statement repeatedly emphasizes the need to avoid confusion, but the blessings encouraged by the Statement do in fact create confusion,” wrote Zen.

The 92-year-old cardinal expressed particular outrage over Fernández’s comments that “sexual behavior in same-sex relationships has its goodness, that it can ‘progress’ and ‘grow’.” Zen pointed out the similarities between this and Pope Francis’ answer to the five cardinals’ dubia; the pontiff’s reply favorably compared marriage to homosexual “sexual love.”

“This is an absolute subjective error. According to objective truth, that behavior is a grave sin and can never be good,” wrote Zen. “If the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is […] committing a heresy by claiming a serious sin as ‘good,’ then shouldn’t the Prefect resign or be dismissed?”

Contradictory texts from Cdl. Fernández?

Zen began his critique by highlighting unresolved problems in the local translations of Fiducia Supplicans, noting that there is no official Chinese version of the text and that the translation made locally contains errors regarding those who are to be blessed.

But in addition to such more localized concerns, Zen wrote that Fiducia Supplicans “leaves much to be desired.”

He called into question the logic of Fernández’s January 4 press release defending Fiducia Supplicans, highlighting what he demonstrated as a contradiction in its text and argumentation. So contradictory was that January 4 text, he said, that it amounted to saying that Fiducia Supplicans “is not valid for the time being”:

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued another ‘statement’ on January 4 of this year, which, on the one hand, strongly denies that the ‘statement’ of December 18 is contrary to ecclesiastical reasoning, and on the other hand, recognizes that the bishops and episcopal conferences have reason to have certain doubts about it, and that it seems to them that they need a longer period of time to study it, and that they cannot permit priests to carry out the statement at the present time, which is something that the Holy See understands. 

This is tantamount to saying that the Declaration of December 18 is not valid for the time being.

The cardinal also raised issues with the proposed instances during which blessings could be given, as presented by Fiducia Supplicans. One example given by the text was that couples might ask for a blessing during a pilgrimage, or that a pilgrimage group itself might be blessed.

Zen wrote about this saying that “it is neither possible nor necessary for a priest to clarify whether or not a pilgrimage group has couples living in ‘abnormal’ sexual relationships. 

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