“So faith, hope, love abide, these three,” Saint Paul reminds us, “but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). The Sacrament of Penance is a Sacrament of mercy. In the service of love, priests help penitents identify their predominant faults and help them chip away at them over time.

A priest sits in the confessional with awareness of the words of Jesus. How many times must I forgive my brother, seven times? “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt. 18:22). God also uses the Sacrament of Penance to remind the priest of his own sins. It is charitable for the priest to know and profess the difference between right and wrong.

Scriptural teaching is unambiguous. The unrepented sins of Sodom and Gomorrah inflamed God’s wrath, and He destroyed the cities with fire and brimstone. Jesus warns against adultery and lust with complete clarity: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28). Saint Paul is inclusive with his heavenly exclusions: “Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

In 1975, Pope Paul VI wrote in Evangelii Nuntiandi:

Another sign of love will be the effort to transmit to Christians not doubts and uncertainties born of an erudition poorly assimilated but certainties that are solid because they are anchored in the Word of God. The faithful need these certainties for their Christian life; they have a right to them, as children of God who abandon themselves entirely into His arms and to the exigencies of love.

In contrast to the firm certainties of faith, ambiguity is like a stealth fighter plane. The danger is often unnoticed until too late. Indeed, ambiguities even silence sober churchmen lest they stand accused as “hateful” and “judgmental.” In 1986, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger unmasked the technique. He identified ambiguity as a tool of the gay agenda:

A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they [those promoting a change to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality] attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful… Some of these groups will use the word ‘Catholic’ to describe either the organization or its intended members, yet they do not defend and promote the teaching of the Magisterium; indeed, they even openly attack it. While their members may claim a desire to conform their lives to the teaching of Jesus, in fact they abandon the teaching of his Church.

Cardinal Ratzinger hardly extinguished corrosive doctrinal ambiguities under the cover of pastoral sensitivities. In 1996, shortly before his death, Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago requested the Windy City Gay Chorus to perform at his funeral. It took place at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Marianne Duddy, president of the national Gay Catholic group, Dignity U.S.A observed, “This is a magnificent gesture to let it be known that he acknowledged the presence of Gay and Lesbian people within the Church community.”

Studied ambiguity has become a cornerstone of much of contemporary ecclesiastical policy-making. Pope Francis recently appointed Archbishop (now Cardinal-designate) Victor Manuel Fernández as the head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF). The Archbishop is the author of Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing and seems to be an expert on marriage, but undoes a clear understanding of marriage with LGBTQ ambiguities: …marriage” in the strict sense is only one thing: that stable union of two beings as different as male and female, who in that difference are capable of generating new life. There is nothing that can be compared to that and using that name to express something else is not good or correct. At the same time, I believe that gestures or actions that may express something different should be avoided. That is why I think that the greatest care that must be taken is to avoid rites or blessings that could feed this confusion. Now, if a blessing is given in such a way that it does not cause that confusion, it will have to be analyzed and confirmed.

Ambiguous hypotheticals to the contrary, there will never be a blessing for same-sex “unions” that doesn’t confuse.

Archbishop Fernández’s studied ambiguity is not without precedent. In 2006 he undermined the Church’s teaching on contraception using the “Christian hierarchy of values crowned by charity” to rationalize the intrinsic evil of contraception. He describes a difficult marital situation and then laments an “inflexible refusal of any use of condoms.”

However, Cardinal-designate Fernández — the new watchdog for Catholic orthodoxy in the Vatican — isn’t ambiguous about the art of kissing: “The penetrating kiss is when you suck and slurp with the lips. The penetrating kiss is when you stick in your tongue. Watch out for teeth.” In his defense, the Cardinal-designate explained his early book targeted, well, teenagers and quoted many of their descriptions of kissing. What bishop would issue a “letter of good standing” for a priest who speaks to kids like this? A breathtaking double standard….

From Father Jerry Pokorsky in Catholic World Report