ROME — American Archbishop Charles Chaput has sharply criticized Pope Francis for sowing confusion and ambiguity as well as for his “unjust” criticism of U.S. Catholics.
Confused teaching is “never excusable,” writes Chaput, the redoubtable former archbishop of Philadelphia, and the transmission of Christian truth “demands clarity and consistency.”
Deliberate or persistent ambiguity, on the contrary, “is not of God,” he adds, and it “inevitably results in damage to individual souls and to our common Church life.”
The archbishop’s essay, published in First Things under the title “The Cost of ‘Making a Mess,’” followed on the announcement that the Vatican had reversed its position on the blessing of gay couples, something the Church has never allowed in its 2000-year history.
This decision has resulted in massive confusion among the faithful, who cannot understand that “God cannot bless sin,” as a 2021 Vatican text affirmed, and yet suddenly he can bless homosexual couples, whose very identity is based on their sinful behavior.
The Vatican’s latest document “is a doubleminded exercise in simultaneously affirming and undercutting Catholic teaching on the nature of blessings and their application to ‘irregular’ relationships,” Archbishop Chaput notes.
“Whether the hearer is delighted or angered by the latest Vatican text, the practical fallout is a wave of confusion in the bloodstream of the Church at Christmas — a season meant for joy, but now tangled up with frustration, doubt, and conflict,” he writes.
To add insult to injury, the pope attributes pushback against the document to fearfully “sticking to rules,” rather than a genuine concern for the eternal good of the faithful.
As Chaput notes, complaints about rigid ideological positions are now “the Holy See’s default response to any reasoned reservations about, or honest criticism of, its actions.”
Moreover, the pope’s ongoing criticism of American Catholics in particular “has too often been unjust and uninformed,” the archbishop observes.
In the end, “pastoral leaders are accountable for their words and their actions,” and as St. Paul said so long ago, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace,” Chaput concludes.