What is happening to us Catholics?

A response to Fiducia supplicans and the crisis in the Church

Cathopic, Titi Maciel Pérez
Cathopic, Titi Maciel Pérez

A few days ago, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration Fiducia supplicans. I don’t feel it is my place to analyze the document itself; I would simply like to share a few reflections on the reaction to the document and what it indicates about the state of our Church.

Among the various responses, Fr. James Martin appears in The New York Times blessing a same-sex couple, even though Fiducia supplicans determines that the blessing should be spontaneous and avoid scandal and confusion. [1] On the other hand, in a more extreme manner, Archbishop Viganò declares that the people who work in the Vatican are “servants of Satan”. [2] I cannot judge the intentions of others. However, the division that public reactions such as these have provoked among the faithful seem to indicate to me that many are losing a sense of unity as a Church and the humble respect we owe to the Magisterium. What has happened to us Catholics to bring us to this point?


Confronted with the content covered by the document, the secular media and certain leaders within the Church would have us think that we have two options:

  1. I can demand that doctrine, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit over two millennia, changes to reflect my progressive ideas. I want to please the world, so I interpret the Holy Scriptures as I wish and avoid talking about sin, so as not to hurt fragile sensibilities.
  2. I can ignore the problems of today’s world because I am afraid to get my hands dirty. I don’t want to make myself uncomfortable; it is easier to take refuge in my bubble. Besides, it’s not me who is in this situation, they are “the sinners”.

As Christians we do not have to choose between one extreme or the other; we are called to follow Christ and be faithful to our Mother, the Church. We can embrace the pastoral attitude of Pope Francis and at the same time be of the opinion that certain measures, such as these, are perhaps not the most prudent. In disagreeing, what is essential is communion with the successor of Peter. This organic integration of ideas, although difficult to achieve, is indispensable.

When ideology consumes, faith is lost

When ideology consumes us, authentic faith disappears. It robs us of the ability to discern freely; our heart falls into tribal, instinctive and childish impulses that show no signs of a free and mature conscience. Our mind clings to obsessions, whether with the “perfect” liturgy or “progress” that ignores doctrine. We use manipulated language, words like “modernism”, “heretic” and “diversity” that have lost all authentic meaning to become purely ideological weapons.

Where is the simplicity of the Gospel: humble listening, selfless accompaniment, radical surrender to our crucified Lord, the call to be faithful to our roots as Christian people? In the mind held captive by an ideology, these virtues find no room to flourish.

Why are we confused?

There are many people of good faith who, upon reading Fiducia supplicans with an open heart, still have doubts. I share that discomfort; it’s possible the document isn’t perfect. But weren’t Jesus’ disciples confused when faced with novel and complicated situations? What brings me peace is confidence in the “living Magisterium, which is the sole authentic interpreter of the Word of God, written or handed down, by virtue of the authority which it exercises in the name of Christ.” [3] Who am I to distrust?

The understanding of the document is also complicated in light of our context: a media whose interest is to sow division, the complexity of the subject matter itself, ignorance of other experiences, and even the current ecclesial situation, particularly in view of the liturgical abuses of the German Church, to which this document may have been a response. Perhaps what doesn’t help either is our obsession with always needing a perfect answer, the inability we often have to say “I don’t know.”

Let us free ourselves from so much intellectuality and go out to the streets. It would not hurt us to do as Archbishop García Cuerva did a few days ago, when he went on pilgrimage with the Virgin of Luján in the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. [4] He approached real people, not ideal or theoretical situations that we observe, comfortably, behind our screens: adults and children; poor and not so poor; transgender individuals, prostitutes, beggars, drug dealers, without asking anyone about their regularity or irregularity in the Church. Sinners, like you and me, who probably know very little of Catholic moral theology. He blessed his flock, and they felt the closeness of their shepherd.

First the embrace, then the motivation for growth

Radical mercy and conversion of heart. This is the balance we must always have; it is the essence of the Christian vocation. This is what Jesus did when he found the woman caught in adultery. First the embrace. “Neither do I condemn you.” After the fraternal encounter, the call to repentance: “Go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11). I reach out to you, I am not afraid to approach your life, no matter what state you are in. “God loves you intimately.” But I do not forget the essential thing: “That is why He invites you to something more, to surrender everything, to be a saint.” This is the path, always valuing contexts, respecting inner processes and times, and discerning the appropriate moments, people, and forms for each conversation.

Our task

For those who strongly emphasize tradition: Have you ever accompanied a couple in an “irregular” situation? Have you really walked, cried, laughed, prayed with them, without judging? I think there you will see how complexly human this issue is.

For those who champion progress over doctrine: have you taken the time to delve into the deep treasure of the Church’s teachings on marriage and how they reveal the beauty of the human being? I think there you will see where we are being called to.

It’s time to delve deeper into our tradition, recognizing its beauty and at the same time, its limitations, especially at the pastoral level. It’s time to unite as a Church around the Holy Father, who, with his human errors, continues to be the Vicar of Christ, guiding us in a pastoral theology that brings us closer to the People of God. It’s time to stop listening to people who sow disunity, to recognize our smallness and trust in the Church of Christ, being signs of unity.

What about me?

I invite you to meditate in silence, returning to the essential: 

How is my relationship with Jesus?
How am I serving others?

When I see a man sleeping in the street, I do not stop, I am not moved. He is part of the landscape. Who else is invisible to me? The young man sitting alone at Mass, the cleaning lady, the cashier at the supermarket. Have I really inconvenienced myself to approach the poor, the hungry, those on the periphery of my surroundings? If I spend more time entangled in the news of ecclesial politics than in prayer and service, the real problem within the Church is not others, it’s me!

What should concern me in a holy manner is not the most recent decree issued by the Vatican, but the fact that so many of my brothers and sisters “are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.” [5] What am I doing today? A radiant smile that springs from a soul that takes refuge in the Lord can change someone else’s day. Let us be the saints of this time, bearers of this joy, bringing the light of Christ to a society that thirsts for God.

A culture of encounter

How do we heal wounds? It is not necessary to agree. The important thing is to approach conversations with humility, with an open heart and a willingness to listen. This is true not only for discussions among Catholics, but for every human conversation, whether with a sedevacantist, a lesbian abortionist, or a Muslim imam. How easy it is to judge and issue opinions from a distance!

Instead of attacking on social media, let us exchange ideas fraternally, sharing our opinion, even if it is contrary to what others think, in communion and humility. Let us put down our cell phones and computers for a moment, let us open the Bible, let us pray in silence. In this way we will be able to discern a path of renewal for our Church, taking into account our differences; this is the meaning of a universal Church. And let us not forget what Pope Francis has shared with us:

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” [5]


[1] Cf. “Making History on a Tuesday Morning, With the Church’s Blessing,” The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2023

[2] Declaration on “Fiducia supplicans”, Exsurge Domine, n. 5.

[3] Card. J. Ratzinger, Donum Veritatis, n. 13

[4] Cf. “Travestis y comedores bendecidos en una peregrinación con la Virgen de Luján y el arzobispo”, TÉLAM, 29 Dec. 2023

[5] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 493