Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Think Fiducia Supplicans won't cause confusion? Ask this Uruguayan Bishop


Bishop clarifies nature of blessing given to celebrity same-sex couple

ROME – A Uruguayan bishop has issued a statement clarifying the nature of a blessing given to a high-profile same-sex couple shortly after their civil marriage, saying it was authorized by the local nunciature and was fully compliant with a new Vatican document permitting such blessings.

On Feb. 19, Uruguayan actor and comedian Carlos Perciavalle, 82, and Jimmy Castilhos, 47, his partner and longtime producer, were married in a small civil ceremony, which they celebrated on Feb. 21 with a blow-out party attended by around 400 guests.

The party was described by the media as a “religious wedding” set to take place in the church of San Benito in Garzón, to be presided over by the church’s pastor, Francisco Gordalina.

Public details of these plans caused immediate backlash amid the Catholic community, prompting the Diocese of Maldonado-Punta del Este-Minas to issue a statement saying the venue was a private chapel and not a parish. The blessing was later moved to the couple’s farm in Laguna del Sauce.

Given the public backlash over the blessing and the headlines surrounding it, Bishop Milton Troccoli of Maldonado-Punta del Este-Minas issued a statement Feb. 22 clarifying the situation, saying that given public reaction, he felt the need to explain the decision-making process that led to the blessing.

After local media first began reporting that a “religious celebration” for Perciavalle and Castilhos would take place inside of a church, and the diocese’s subsequent statement, a meeting was convened at the couple’s request, “to personally discuss and clarify the situation.”

That meeting, Troccoli said, was attended by himself, the diocesan vicar general, and the pastor of the parish in question.

“It was a long, deep, and serene dialogue” in which various paragraphs of the Vatican’s Dec. 18 declaration Fiducia Supplicans authorizing blessings for couples in irregular unions, including same-sex couples and divorced and remarried couples, were read and discussed.

During this conversation, Troccoli said Perciavalle and Castilhos asked to receive a blessing, according to Fiducia Supplicans, as a couple “in an ‘irregular situation.’”

“It took a few days to be able to make the pertinent consultations,” Troccoli said, saying the diocese consulted with the apostolic nunciature in Uruguay on how to proceed, given the intense media interest.

The nunciature responded, Troccoli said, saying that “the blessing had to be given, since there was a document signed by the Pope, and that we should proceed accordingly.”

“We then communicated to the interested parties that the blessing would be given and reminded them that it would not be in a church, that it was a blessing of the people and not of the union, (it was not a ‘church wedding’), and that because of this it would be done discreetly, without the presence of guests; that it was a simple blessing,” he said.

After weighing factors of location and scheduling, Troccoli said the blessing was given privately at the couple’s home.

Troccoli acknowledged that media coverage of the blessing “may have hurt the sensitivity of some and may have confused others,” however, he said it also “moved some to come closer to discuss their personal or family life situation, thanking the Church for its closeness.”

“As the same document Fiducia Supplicans declares, the Church continues affirming the sacred value of marriage between a man and a woman, in an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union that is open to life. This is not in question,” he said.

The goal of Fiducia Supplicans is to “pastorally draw near” to couples who find themselves in irregular situations, Troccoli said, saying this is not done “for ideological reasons, nor for propaganda, but seeking that the love of God reaches everyone.”

He said the novelty of Fiducia Supplicans and its pastoral implications “mobilizes us all” and is an invitation for the Church to conduct a “deep reflection on how to continue seeking paths of evangelization.”

“It is a great challenge, which requires prayer, discernment, and reflection,” he said, and invited Catholics in his diocese to “continue walking together in this time of Lent, which leads us to the desert to temper our hearts on the journey toward Easter and to renew ourselves internally.”

One aspect of the saga of the couple’s blessing that has drawn ire from critics of Fiducia Supplicans is the fact that Troccoli sought insight from the papal representative in Uruguay, setting what they argue is a dangerous diplomatic precedent.

In a Jan. 4 clarification on the application of Fiducia Supplicans, Argentine Cardinal Victor Fernández, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith which issued the document, said local bishops have the power to make decisions on the blessing of couples in irregular situations, as they know the local situation best.

Going to the Vatican for a simple pastoral blessing, for critics, could cause broader complications with a bishop’s ability to govern and problem-solve in their own diocese.

Perciavalle and Castilhos have also reportedly spoken about having a child through surrogacy, a practice that Pope Francis fiercely condemned and called on the international community to eradicate in an audience with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican last month.

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