On the Question of Blessing Gay Unions

Published March 18, 2021

C.S. Lewis had a wise policy. He always resented officers who stooped down to instruct enlisted men on struggles they themselves never experienced. Consequently, he resolved never to do the same. That’s why he never talked about homosexuality or gambling, because neither held the slightest attraction to him. Somebody once replied, “So then, all those moral struggles you talk about in The Screwtape Letters and other books….?”

Yes. It was true. All of them. As he put it, “My heart (I need no other) sheweth me the wickedness of the ungodly.”

I mention this by way of preface, because it is not my intention to offer free advice to LGBTQ people in what follows, but simply to try to analyze what is going on in the current contretemps from the perspective of somebody who believes and tries to practice the Catholic faith.

“Ah! But you admit that you think homosexuality is a sin!”

If by that you mean I think homogenital sexual acts are sinful, then yes. How many times do I have to say that I believe the Church’s teaching before people believe me?

But that is light years from saying, “Gays are more sinful than I am” or “It is a sin to be attracted to the same sex” or “Gays need to repent extra super more than the rest of us” or “Gays should get out of the Church” or “God hates gays for loving who they love” or “Gays can never please God” (a particularly beloved lie among the Fortress Katolicus crowd, who seem to exult at the thought of driving people away from Jesus).

As I already said and reiterate here, I have become convinced that the core failure of Catholic witness to LGBTQ people is that we nearly always begin, not with the fact that they are made in the image and likeness of God and ones for whom Christ died, but with the conviction that they are enemies, saboteurs, and irredeemably broken problems who must constantly be told they are broken, not loved; rejected, not cherished. Who, hearing such a message dinned into their ears day in and day out would not flee such an anti-community? To me, the truest sign of miraculous grace in the world is the persistent faith of gay Catholics in the face of such unremitting hostility from their brethren. I cannot account for it apart from the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.

That said, I think it worthwhile to take a look at the brief statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and break down what is going on in it. Many are deeply scandalized by it, in no small part because Pope Francis raised hopes that the Church was taking a different approach to its gay members when he offered that he believed that gay couples deserved civil protections, including legal rights and health care benefits. Some would argue that this is something different than endorsing civil unions, but I cannot for the life of me see how. It was to be expected that many would assume the Francis was therefore just about to wave the magic papal wand and suddenly authorize some sort of blessing for gay unions. Not marriage, exactly. But something marriageish.

I was never among that crowd, simply because I know something of how doctrine develops in the Church and what can and cannot be done. That is not (as we shall see) because I believe there is no way for the Church to acknowledge anything good whatsoever in gay relationships, but because I am aware of how slow and painstaking the Ents of Rome are when mulling over a question, particularly a question that pertains to the seven sacraments. These are, remember, people who literally took forty years of hooming and homming to conclude that the Beatles were a pretty good band. When you look up “Rapid Response Squad” in the phone book, you are never going to find the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in the Yellow Pages. Rather, what they tend to do is take forever to think things over and when they come to a conclusion, make shocking developments that seem counter-intuitive to Reactionaries, flabbergast the world, seem like novelties, and in fact be in accord with the Tradition. That is what Acts 15, Nicaea and Vatican II (to name just three councils) all have in common. It takes more than a mere pope to absorb the stunning changes to the conception of the family that technology, economics, and rapidly evolving mores have flung at the Church’s Tradition in the past 50 years. There is not going to be a sudden stroke of a pen resolving the tension between the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of Marriage and the wide menu of family arrangements (of which gay marriage is but one expression) currently available in our culture. Expecting there would be was naive.

The reason is, from a doctrinal perspective, simple. There is only one form of sexual expression compatible with the Tradition and there always has been: one man and one woman in indissoluble sacramental union open to the transmission of life. That is the sacrament of Marriage. It excludes not merely gay unions, but all heterosexual unions that do not fit that description, including adultery, polygamy and polyamory, fornication, prostitution, etc. Other filters apply as well, including such things as incest, age of consent, and so forth. But the point is simply that one of the core functions of the Church is to guard the sacraments, and Marriage is a sacrament. She can no more tailor the sacraments to the personal tastes of the flock than she can decree that since lots of people like cookies and milk better than they like bread and wine, the Eucharist can be celebrated using those elements instead.

Once you get this, the CDF’s response to the question of blessing gay unions, though a painful blow to gay Catholics, is not all that hard to understand. Nor is it (as we shall see) the end of the conversation, and that should be a hopeful thought, as we will see tomorrow. What I propose today is that we see what the Church does–and does not–say about the question.

Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex, 15.03.2021

Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium
regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex

TO THE QUESTION PROPOSED: 
Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?

RESPONSE:
Negative.

First thing to note: The Church insists that she cannot–not will not–bless gay unions. In short, she has not the power. Why? That is what the Explanatory Note exists to document.

Explanatory Note

In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to whom are proposed paths of growth in faith, “so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives”[1].

“Ecclesial contexts” is very important here. The Church is limiting the discussion to the involvement of the sacerdotal priesthood in the act of “blessing”. So what? So this: not all blessings are done by priests. Laity have the power and authority to bless in certain situations. They lay hands on their kids at bedtime. They say grace at dinner (“Bless us, O Lord, in these thy gifts….”), etc.

Next, note that the Church is perfectly well aware that the desire for some way of affirming gay people and their love for one another is a Good Thing. We will return to that fact later.

On such paths, listening to the word of God, prayer, participation in ecclesial liturgical actions and the exercise of charity can play an important role in sustaining the commitment to read one’s own history and to adhere with freedom and responsibility to one’s baptismal call, because “God loves every person and the Church does the same”[2], rejecting all unjust discrimination.

And again, the Church affirms that gay people can, in their particular situation in life, still be called to discipleship to Jesus and therefore can be, like anybody else, saints. This is light years from the “If you are gay, you should just clear out!” attitude of Fortress Katolicus.

Among the liturgical actions of the Church, the sacramentals have a singular importance: “These are sacred signs that resemble the sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church’s intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions of life are sanctified”[3]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies, then, that “sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it” (#1670).

Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church “calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us to seek his mercy by our holiness of life”[4]. In addition, they “have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church’s intercession”[5].

Now we start to get to the nub of the issue. Remember: this is a response to a dubium: that is, a question proposed by shepherds and those charged with the sacramental care of the flock. It is, if you will, a technical question, not a mere sentimental one. A “blessing” here is an ecclesial action and such actions are sacramental–that is, connected to the seven sacraments. If I, as a layman, bless you when you sneeze, it is not an ecclesial action. If a priest blesses you with holy water, he is using a sacramental that is connected to, but not identical with, the sacrament of Baptism. Likewise, if he blesses your dinner, he is performing an ecclesial act related to the Eucharist. If he blesses your wedding rings, he is making them sacramentals of your sacrament of Marriage. The idea is always the extension of the Incarnation into the whole of the created world, first through the seven sacraments and then beyond into all creation.

Here’s the thing though: though all creation is good (including, especially, every human person) and therefore can be blessed, there are also certain things that are, at the very least difficult to reconcile with the revelation. To get the hang of it, consider the case of the USS Corpus Christi, a nuclear attack submarine that some genius at the Pentagon christened. Eventually it was renamed USS City of Corpus Christi because some Catholic politicians rightly objected to “blessing” a weapon of mass destruction. What it symbolized was so radically contrary to the gospel that the dissonance of the symbol with the thing symbolized was unacceptable. This is the problem the Church faces with the concept of blessing gay unions. Because precisely the nature of a sacrament is that it symbolizes what it does and it does what it symbolizes–and the sacrament of Marriage, before it is about the marriage of two particular baptized people, is about the Marriage of Christ the Bridegroom and his Bride the Church. We mortals are participating in that Cosmic Marriage as we are participating in our wedding:

Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex[6]. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing[7] invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”[8].

The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.

The Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome with respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations, and will know how to find the most appropriate ways, consistent with Church teaching, to proclaim to them the Gospel in its fullness. At the same time, they should recognize the genuine nearness of the Church – which prays for them, accompanies them and shares their journey of Christian faith[9] – and receive the teachings with sincere openness.

This is what it comes back to. On the one hand, a sacerdotal blessing is a sacramental act. Such acts are, by their nature, related to the seven sacraments. The sacrament of Marriage is and always has been between one man and one woman open to the transmission of life in the Catholic Tradition, because Marriage is the sacramental icon of Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church. The Church–which cannot play around with the matter of the sacrament of Marriage any more than it can play around with baptizing people in champagne or using donuts and coffee for the matter of the Eucharist–is leery of blessing gay unions just as it is leery of blessing polygamous or polyamorous ones. Not because such unions are incapable of being loving and mutually supportive and beneficial for the participants, but because they are not capable of being what the Church has always understood to be marriage, based on the the teaching of Jesus Christ himself. The Church is bound by what Jesus reveals marriage to be in Matthew 19 and related texts.

On the other hand, the Church is absolutely bound to the fact that human beings–every human being and all human beings, including those who are LGBTQ–are “the only creatures on earth whom God has made for their own sake” (Gaudium et Spes). In other words, the law is made for man, not man for the law. All systems, including ecclesial systems, exist for the good of the human person, not vice versa. That is why the CDF goes on:

The answer to the proposed dubium does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations[10], who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching. Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God[11].

At the same time, the Church recalls that God Himself never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world, because for Him “we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit”[12]. But he does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. He in fact “takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are”[13].

For the above mentioned reasons, the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex in the sense intended above.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of this Congregation, was informed and gave his assent to the publication of the above-mentioned Responsum ad dubium, with the annexed Explanatory Note.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the 22nd of February 2021, Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle.

So that is where things stand at the moment. There is, inherent in the conversation between the doctrinal and pastoral expressions of the Church, a tension between the ideal and the lived experience not only of the Church’s members, but of the pastors trying to shepherd them and accommodate their concrete circumstances. The dubium arose precisely out of that pastoral experience: a Tradition extending back 2000 years to the Church’s eagerness to accommodate the enormous variety of its members and be “all things to all”. The CDF’s answer likewise comes out of the sacramental Tradition: a Tradition extending back 2000 years and eager to protect the sacraments entrusted to her. That is deeply disappointing to the LGBTQ members of the Church, but unsurprising given the sacramental theology of the Church, and the speed with which the Magisterium typically develops doctrine.

At the same time, I am inclined to think that this will, by no means, be the last word of the Magisterium on the matter and I have some speculations–only speculations–on how things might develop in the future. Of which more tomorrow.

23 Responses

  1. If I read you properly Mark, the position is that if a gay couple requested a blessing from a priest, he could bless them as people but not their union?
    I ask this because I have read where blessings can only be conferred on physical entities, people, cars, houses etc etc. If that is true then surely the whole argument is moot because a union either gay or straight shouldn’t be getting a blessing in any case.

    1. Generally yes to the first part. The priest can certainly bless than in a manner in accordance with the Church’s teaching (that is to say, in accordance with our understanding of what God has instituted as the right order of how our sexuality should be lived out). All Catholics can be blessed by their pastors.

      I have not encountered a statement like your second part, but rather than try to pin down the semantics, let it suffice to say the concern of the Church in responding to the question is that it is illicit to confer or invoke blessings in a manner contradictory to the Church’s teaching.

      Also, pragmatically speaking, blessing of individuals who are openly living in contradiction to Church teaching should be done carefully so as to avoid giving the impression of condoning any sinful activities (which as Mark discusses, is a consideration far from limited to homosexuality).

  2. I guess one question I have here is that the question in the dubium simply asked whether same sex unions could be blessed by a priest, but did so without any reference to sexual activity in relation to those unions. But the CDF supplied this assumption in its explanation. Maybe it was implicitly assumed in the question, but I’m not sure. Nor am I sure that the CDF should have done so. The negative seems unqualified.

    The reason I ask is because I have been following the “side B” discussions, and one of the potential avenues for faithful LGB+ Catholics is covenanted friendships. You have (at least) two people who agree to live together and build each other up in holiness (and I say at least, because nothing in this vision seems to be limiting to two people like marriage is). But my impression is that these friendships are not modeled after marriage but rather the establishment of monastic order, combined with religious vows in conjunction with a community. Granted, monasticism has its relationship to marriage as well, but in a very different and largely eschatological way. Furthermore, the vows are individual, but presumably the establishment of an order is not merely a sum of individual vows.

    This seems like a good option to have and to be sanctioned by the Church, assuming that its purpose and character is clear for those involved. It’s not the only option (I think for some it might be a temptation, but for others this need not be the case), but it not only addresses the issue of loneliness in the absence of a public union like marriage and children, but does so in a way that is oriented towards God. If the union is modeled not after marriage, but after monastic life, could it be still be blessed?

      1. The reason I did was because this seemed to be more on the end of sexual orientation than gender identity. I’m not sure to what extent side B has considered trans issues, but it seems to be far less than it has the LGB portion.

  3. I don’t have a huge amount of time to write this morning. Busy, busy, busy. But for once, I won’t be accused of hijacking a thread by saying, “WHAT ABOUT THIS!?!?”

    One of the many things that Mark refers to, however obliquely, is that so frequently that discussions about the place of gay people in the church, in society, and even in their own lives, revolves not around gay people themselves, and what we have to say about ourselves, the realities of our lives…

    …but what some straight people think about gay people, our place in the church, in society, and even in our own lives. And interestingly enough, although it is rarely acknowledged, it’s not just about what some straight people think, but what a whole bunch of people think — people who present themselves to the world as heterosexual, but who aren’t and who are never going to be…

    … no matter how desperately they deflect, project, and misdirect. Personally, I’m not going to give a lot of weight to the opinions of people who hate themselves so much that they lie to the entire world about who they really are. But funny thing, even when they’re not lying andadmit who they are, they’re still not telling the truth. Douglas Mainlining comes to mind, and I’ve got a slightly used Church Militant that you might want to buy. I began the process of learning to stop lying about it nearly 50 years ago. It took a while to get to the point of never lying about it, and I still lie about it if I think I am physically in danger, like the last time I went to a Muslim country with anti-gay laws. That’s why I don’t go to those places anymore. It’s probably why you’ll never catch me in some Qhristian hellhole like Alabama, Arkansas, or Oklahoma.

    Speaking about deflection, projection, misdirection, Mark less obliquely refers to that all of us, everyone of us, are born with a sinful and defective nature. All of us are in need of grace, all of us are in need of salvation. I dispute that idea as well, but I’m not going go into it very much here, because the finer points of theology aren’t really the point at all. And Ithink SIN is an acronym for Self Inflicted Nonsense. But then, I’m an atheist. My belief is that we’re all human, and none of us are perfect. That doesn’t require a belief in salvation, though it might have something to do with good parenting and the support of society.

    But never mind that. As Mark rightly points out, despite the fact that we’re all born with that “sin nature“, it is only gay people that are singled out as being extra especially superduper reprehensible- right up there with murder. Funny, I harm no one, I bother no one— except for those who go out of their way, demanding to be bothered. Most people would say that I add something to their lives, and that something isn’t harm. The very fact that I am gay is an integral part of who I am, and why I am who I am. So if you think you’re going to be harmed by my very existence, maybe the problem lies with you, and not with me

    I so love the idea that sodomy is one of the four sins that cries out to the heavens for vengeance. If you say that, You’re going to have a hard time getting away from calling my quite harmless sex life a sin just like everyone else’s, And yet simultaneously, one of four that is so bad that God himself must take a personal interest in it, with a vengeance, no less. But you see, I think that goes back to the homo Hating Homo‘s mentioned above, that are so desperate to deflect attention from their own extra special sinfulness, and pay for their issues with themselves in the easy coin of other peoples lives.

    But the gay cat really escapes from the bag-o-bigotry when it comes to that fairly innocuous term, “just discrimination“ versus “unjust discrimination“. From the point of view of this Fagge, it is and always has been just discrimination – only discrimination, clearly discrimination, plainly discrimination, but nothing to do with justice, morality, or rightness. Qardinal Dolan went on a rant the other day about the equality act, about all of the things that it was going to do to harm the faith, and not allow people who are religious to claim religion as their excuse to apply unjust discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. A few years ago, the morons- spelling! Spelling!— passed a bill that was heralded by the morons as a beacon of tolerance: the only people that would be allowed to discriminate in matters of housing, appointment, and public accommodations would be the very people who are most likely to do so— religious small businesses. I felt so special, so tolerated, so loved!

    I have yet to see where one aspect of practice in one’s faith, whatever that might mean, requires anyone to discriminate in matters of housing, employment, and public accommodations. If you’re renting out your parish hall for weddings, unless we’re talking about the church of Joel Osteen, it’s not a religious act, it’s an act of business. If the complete and true and faithful practice of your faith requires that you discriminate against others in matters of housing, employment, and public accommodations, I tend to think that your faith really isn’t about your faith at all, but about plain old bigotry, despite, and fear.

    And money. NEVER forget the money.

    when the so-called religious discriminate against gay people in these areas, it is called religious freedom. When we object to being treated differently, it is called religious persecution, an attack on the faith. As I have said many times before on these very pages, what you have here is a vicious, ancient, and durable prejudice that for a lot of sociological, psychological, cultural, historical, and religious reasons, hides behind religious faith and presents itself as a virtue. It is not. just because someone claims that X is based upon their sincere religious belief, doesn’t make that a true statement. And from the point of you of this fagge, it certainly does not make it right.

    Here is what the equality act does, and all that it does: it includes gay and trans people as a protected group in exactly the same way that race, religion, and national origin are included in the civil rights act of 1964. Putting in another way, it affirms that discrimination on the basis of religious belief, yours or mine, is in no way a required practice of faith. Putting in another way, it demands of Qonservative Qhristians to extend the same courtesy, respect, and tolerance that they routinely extend to all of the other people who don’t believe what Qonservative Qhristians believe, Whom Qonservative Qhristians believe are going to burn in hell forever for not believing what Qonservative Qhristians believe.

    That’s what it does.

    When I was a little boy, our very Catholic Neighbor explained to me that every time we lied, we got a black spot on our souls. And when our soul was completely black, then we went to hell when we died. Qardinal Dolan told so many lies, half truths, distortions, and dogma masquerading as facts The other day that if my neighbor told the truth, there is more blackness in his soul than can be found between the stars.

    More later.

  4. @ mark

    I admit spending about 25 minutes on it. So, i told the truth.

    There’s a great deal more I could say, and will say. But I will say this much. I think your hearts in the right place, Mark. It usually is. but as I have remarked many times, even in my posting above, a great deal of the discussion about the place of gay people in society and the value of our lives comes from people who aren’t gay, or comes from people who are same-sex attracted, but so filled with same-sex-self-hatred-attracted that anything they have to say has to be taken with a pillar of salt.

    The church’s problems with this are well documented. Maybe the church should start listening to people who actually know what they’re talking about, instead of the people who don’t.

  5. Mark,
    This is beautiful. I’m glad you want to expand upon the topic, because as I roll it all around in my heart I realize that there are fuzzy areas that I can’t fathom–mostly pertaining to the nature of people who were married in this life but will not be in heaven and the state of the soul past that earthly bond. I think there is an important reason why, and it has to do with the fact that we will all be married in a different way.

    I’m told that the priesthood leaves an indelible mark upon the soul.

    If a sacramental marriage was the end all be all, than that marriage, as it was, would exist in heaven, but theology indicates that earthly marriage does not. We can be confident that love and holy friendship will endure. –and so– is it safe to say that friendship and love trump (I hate to use that word) the human marriage contract?

    As you sometimes say, “I can’t pinpoint X, or entirely define it, but can easily pinpoint what X is *not*. The same can be said about marriage. I sometimes wonder if it can take longer than a courtship and wedding ceremony to achieve the sacramental aspect of it.

    But getting back to what *endures*–the love found within holy friendship– indicates to me that this state means more than matrimony. And so I can’t see any reason why a ring in which a person pledges to love unconditionally can’t be blessed. And let’s face it, unconditional love is a tall order no matter who pledges themself to it.

    Where I’m most fuzzy on the subject is the theology of our state in the next life, where everybody–gay, straight, celibate, priest, nun, layperson will be collectively a bride.

    p.s. One of the most helpful things a priest has ever said to me is: “you don’t have to figure everything out”. O.K. that gives me some relief, but given the way the announcement about gay civil unions came down, I’m sad and disappointed. Not with reality, but the way the powers that be just plunked it all down like a sack of potatoes so the news media and the traddies could deliver the stunted news the way they were delighted to–
    crowing like a bunch of self important roosters. Yuck.

      1. @joel

        I have one minute before I have to have a conference with the visiting nurse about my friend with frontal temporal lobe dementia.

        Please don’t mention the very large gay bathhouse that the Vatican owns in Rome. We will probably both be accused of something or other. And whatever you do, don’t put the words “Vatican owns Gay bathhouse“ into that tool of the devil known as Google. I suspect it will probably get certain people at the Vatican into a sweat.

        If you do that, somebody will probably blame me.

    1. Well clearly, the Vatican doesn’t have a clue what their investment bankers are up to. It all reads like the Godfather to me. I’m more worried that they will off Francis for trying to get to the bottom of that bottomless swamp.

      Peter’s Pence has to do with operating costs at the Vatican, not invested assets.

      Rocketman was a great movie. Elton John’s statement seemed petty, like he was lowering himself to the level of the crowing Traddies. Children talk like that, not grown adults.

      I loved Elton John’s interview with Terry Gross so much that I bought his book. He is a beautiful human being.

      1. “Peter’s Pence has to do with operating costs at the Vatican, not invested assets.”

        Heh. From the linked article: “Corriere della Sera reported that some of the many investments made by the Vatican, along with its investment in Rocketman, came from donations made to the Peter’s Pence collection . . . .”

        Rocketman had a budget of $40M, of which $1.2 came from the Centurion Global Fund, which receives 2/3 of its funding from various Vatican revenues including Peter’s Pence.

        The film went on to gross $195M, so the Vatican made bank.

      2. $1.2M, not $1.2.
        “If there was a God, this place would have an edit function.” – Neko

    2. Well, Sir Elton Hercules John *was* born in 1947, the same year David Bowie himself was forced out of his mother’s womb.

      Many people are saying that the then-infants were able to produce strong bio-electromagnetic force-fields (due to their births occurring on the Feast of the Annunciation and the day after Orthodox Christmas, respectively) whenever they cried for milk. Someone told me that, one time, they cried so intensely that they disrupted the propulsion system of an alien spacecraft, causing it to crash in Roswell, New Mexico, a few months later, July ‘47. The subconscious memory of this event—deemed “The First Strike in the Coming Intergalactic War” by lots of people—would resurface years later in John’s “Rocketman” and Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.

      Detractors claim that the alien craft was shot down by the Corporal E, America’s first ballistic missile, first launched by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in May 1947, but clearly such people are deranged.

    3. @Joel

      “Well clearly, the (Pope) doesn’t have a clue what their investment bankers (has been) up to. It all reads like the Godfather to me. I’m more worried that they will off Francis for trying to get to the bottom of that bottomless swamp.”

      And most of us have even less of a clue what goes on at the Vatican Bank. I just read yesterday that there was a deficit in operating funds, at the Vatican, which is paid for by Peter’s Pence….(I didn’t lose a wink of sleep about the shortfall) So the Vatican shortfall and Rocketman and Catholic moral theology are all critically linked?

      It seems to be an odd “gotcha!” thing to point out. Francis is now guilty of something akin to insider trading and therefore lacking all moral authority? Hmmmm that’s an interesting perspective.

      I’m looking forward to getting back to the original commentary and Mark’s next installment. Pettiness on both sides makes everything worse.

  6. I appreciate much of the words you say, and would offer my own anecdote as a data point. Its amazing how my son’s moment of announcing himself clarified a great deal. We knew for several years but it’s his story, so he gets to tell it on his own terms, but there are a couple people outside his 5 siblings and mumsy and I that know he’s gay, and its funny how they have all the right current opinions but they imply that in a perfect world things would be different; ha ha, jokes on them I wouldn’t change a thing, how I marvel, for he is fearfully and wonderfully made. Tis true, I’m a fanatical Papist, and yes, I agree w/the Church that fecundity isn’t optional, but I ain’t skipping his wedding and my home is his home, forever; he is a good and delightful boy, this firstborn; I am unworthy to say I am his father. I don’t know how he will fulfill his call to Gospel fidelity, but I am excited to find out.

  7. Mark, i understand what you have written. i must admit to being puzzled though. Did not the Roman Church bless same sex unions early in its history…. Do Saints Sergious and Bachus ring a bell? and if she has blessed them before and to my knowlege not revoked them, why can’t she continue blessing them?

    1. This is a highly dubious retrojection of modern categories on to an ancient culture. The relationship of this rite to anything like the sacrament of Matrimony is very sketchy. At the same time, I do think exploration of this rite is worth discussion in relationship to this question.

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