Newspapers around the world will this week report the Pope’s instruction that priests cannot bless same sex unions, and in so doing, they will miss the real news.
The real news is not the Pope’s immovability on gay marriage but his immovability on reality.
And this stubborn insistence that reality exists – independent of our whims and wishes, or even the dictates of the State – offers hope that the Western world is not yet doomed.
The Pope explained in a Responsum ad Dubium – which is Latin for Response to a Doubt, or, if you prefer, Answer to a Question – released Monday that the church could not bless gay unions, even if it wanted to.
“It is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered … according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord,” he wrote.
In other words, if God has designed sex as a gift to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage – and that between a man and a woman – then requests to bless gay unions “implies a power that the Church does not possess, because she does not have the power over God’s designs”.
Or to put it another way, the Church – unlike the progressive Left – doesn’t presume to create reality by manipulating words.
Calling a triangle a square does not change the reality that squares have four even sides.
Calling abortion healthcare does not change the inconvenient truth that a human is killed.
Cancelling women and instead referring to “people who give birth” does not create a brave new world in which men have babies.
Addressing a man as “she/her” does not nudge biological realities even slightly from their fixed point.
And blessing same sex marriages, no matter how well-intentioned, does not alter the reality that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“The Church is not the arbiter of these designs and the truths they express, but their faithful interpreter and witness,” the Pope wrote.
Fancy the Pope insisting that if God is God, then we are not!
This is a most inconvenient truth.
The Pope is insisting that we cannot run around saying what’s what any more than Hamlet could instruct William Shakespeare as to how things ought to be, or not to be.
And that is the question. Whether we accept reality and do our best to be faithful to it, or whether we deny any fixed point beyond our most recent fetish and appoint ourselves arbiters over a universe that means only what we say it means, at least until someone with a bigger gun insists on his version of unreality.
That the Pope felt it necessary to go further still and declare that affirming reality was not a form of bigotry tells you just how advanced (and dangerous) the fantasy world that the progressive left is creating.
“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.”
You can jump from a high rise building and scream “discrimination” all the way down to the pavement but it will not alter the reality of gravity, or your destiny with the pavement.
You can tear down Sir Isaac Newton’s statue. You can label “gravity” hate speech. You can cancel anyone who dares to opine that gravity exists. And gravity will still exist.
A culture that continues in the delusion that reality is a plasticine that can be shaped to our own desires is doomed to destroy itself on the very reality it ignores.
Our culture is like the US Navy admiral who, seeing a bright light immediately ahead, sent a message: “This is the US Navy. Change your course.”
He immediately received back a message saying: “No. You change your course.”
Incensed, the admiral radioed again. “I am a US Navy admiral. Change your course.”
The same message came back: “No. You change your course.”
Irate, the admiral demanded: “I am a US Navy admiral and this is a nuclear powered destroyer. Change your course!”
A final message came back: “This is a lighthouse. You change your course.”
What happens next is up to us.
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James Macpherson is a sought after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. James' weekly Good Sauce podcast comes out every Tuesday. He also writes regularly for The Spectator.