Volume > Issue > Imbergoglios or Standard Franciscan Procedure?

Imbergoglios or Standard Franciscan Procedure?

NEW OXFORD NOTEBOOK

By Pieter Vree | March 2021
Pieter Vree is Editor of the NOR.

In my December column (“Love on Trial”), I examined Episcopal Bishop William Love’s agony over being made to perform same-sex-marriage rites, as commanded by his church’s General Convention. In response, Janice Hicks, an NOR reader from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, sent a letter to the editor asking whether Bishop Love’s canonical trial and eventual resignation might have some future bearing on the Catholic Church.

“Is it possible, or even probable,” Hicks wrote, “that Catholic bishops and priests could find themselves in the same position as Bishop Love, given the recent pronouncement by Pope Francis, recommending that governments institute civil-union laws to benefit same-sex couples who wish to legalize their relationships? He is the first pope to have done so.”

Hicks wonders whether Francis might “include in liturgical books a new blessing for ‘committed’ same-sex couples to be performed by Catholic priests in countries with such laws.” There are already “blessings for food, houses, vehicles, pets, 15th birthdays, and so on, so why not a blessing for a type of relationship the Pope wants recognized?”

If such were to come to pass, Hicks asks, “Could bishops and priests legitimately refuse to bless same-sex civil unions despite a hypothetical papal decree to do so? Would they face canonical sanctions like Bishop Love?”

First, some background.

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