Rorate Caeli

Does the Church Still Believe in the Supernatural? - From Fiducia supplicans to the norms on the discernment of supernatural phenomena (Roberto de Mattei)

From Fiducia supplicans to the norms on the discernment of supernatural phenomena

by Roberto de Mattei

The declaration Fiducia supplicans, issued on Dec. 18, 2023 by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Francis, has been one of the most controversial points of this pontificate, but it has also marked a turning point thanks to the vast reaction of cardinals, bishops, and entire episcopal conferences, starting with those “peripheries” that the Pope has so often invoked as bearers of authentic religious and human values (

The reason for the protest is the contradiction the document seems to have with the perennial Magisterium of the Church. Indeed, the statement, while denying the permissibility of “same-sex marriage,” admits the possibility of blessing a so-called homosexual “couple,” effectively approving the bond that sinfully unites the two “partners.”

That the document is more than ambiguous has been demonstrated not only by the reactions it has aroused, but also by the clarifications Pope Francis was forced to make; he, speaking at the Dicastery's plenary assembly on Jan. 26, 2024, stated that “when you spontaneously approach a couple to ask them, you are not blessing the union, but simply the people who together have requested it,” and, in an April 24 interview with the American CBS network (60 Minutes), he reiterated, “What I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I can't. The Lord has done that. But blessing every person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone. To bless a same-sex union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless every person, why not? The blessing is for everyone. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!”

If this were the case, however, it would be necessary to revoke the Declaration, or at any rate correct it, because, in the face of the reassuring interventions of the Pope and the secretary of the Dicastery of the Faith, stands the text of the Fiducia Supplicans which, in No. 39, states, “a couple in an irregular situation,” of the same or different sex, can ask for, the blessing, even if it “will never be carried out at the same time as the civil rites of union or even in connection with them. Not even with clothes, gestures or words proper to a marriage.”  

Into the horizon of confusion comes the study The Breached Dam - The Surrender of Fiducia Supplicans to the Homosexual Lobby by Jose Antonio Ureta and Julio Loredo, two leaders of TFP (Tradition, Family and Property), already authors of a 2023 best seller The Synodal Process: a Pandora's Box (

The basic thesis of the new study is that, in recent decades, a powerful LGBT lobby has taken up residence within the Catholic Church and breached the dam of its moral doctrine. The goal of this lobby is to come to change the Church's Magisterium, which condemns homosexuality without appeal. 

We are not dealing here with a conspiracy theory. Ureta and Loredo reconstruct the homosexualist revolution within church structures, citing precise names and facts from the 1970s to the present day. In 1986, under John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, tried to stop this offensive with his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. Other documents followed, but with the pontificate of Pope Bergoglio, the dam walls began to crack. The Declaration Fiducia supplicans, represents the crowning achievement of this process of subversion.

Ureta and Loredo's cry of alarm is important and it is to be hoped that it makes one realize how extensive and deep the corruption within the Church is, but, in the face of this gloomy picture, a question arises: What is to be done? The answer, in our opinion, is that only divine intervention can remedy a situation of such serious doctrinal and moral degradation. 

Related to this may be the new document published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith Norms for Proceeding in the Discernment of Alleged Supernatural Phenomena (, dated May 17, 2024, with approval by Pope Francis.

Some theologians and canonists have criticized this document because it deprives diocesan bishops of the power to make a reliable judgment on present extraordinary phenomena, transferring it to the Dicastery of the Faith and ultimately to the Holy Father. However, this centralization of power is not the most problematic element of the text. 

Instead, the point at issue appears to be a different one. If it is true that only an extraordinary intervention of Grace can restore the Church and the whole of society to a situation of normality, it is necessary that the souls of the faithful and the Pastors who guide them be open to this action of Divine Providence.

Instead, the new Norms of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith give the impression that the Church wants to retreat from the possibility of recognizing an authentic supernatural phenomenon. To the three traditional criteria of yesteryear (“non-supernaturalness constitutes” of the phenomenon, “no supernaturalness constitutes,” “supernaturalness constitutes”), the DDF text replaces six new ones ranging from the explicit declaration of non-supernaturalness to a “nihil obstat,” which says nothing about the supernatural nature of the phenomenon, merely recording its spiritual fruits. The crux of the new norms, as noted by “The New Daily Compass” (, is Article 22 §2, according to which, “the diocesan bishop will take care, moreover, that the faithful do not consider any of the determinations as an approval of the supernatural character of the phenomenon.” His work, in concert with the Dicastery, will henceforth be devoted to the purely pastoral aspect of alleged apparitions or miracles, with the possibility of arriving at a negative judgment, but never an affirmative one on the merits.

 Now it is true that the Church has always acknowledged the intervention of Heaven only after severe investigations, but its circumspection is not the skepticism of the unbeliever. The rationalist smiles condescendingly when told of apparitions or miracles, because he rejects God's presence in history. The Church, on the other hand, believes in the miraculous, but knows that this is an area in which men can deceive themselves and the devil deceive them. For these reasons she acts prudently until God's action is ascertained (cf. Louis Louchet, Theology of Marian Apparitions, Borla, Turin 1960, pp. 43-44). However, one cannot question his power to affirm with certainty “constat de supernaturalitate.” The new norms of the Dicastery of the Faith deny the Church's pastors the possibility of ascertaining the traces of God's intervention in human history on the assumption that the Church's public Revelation closed with the death of the last apostle. But it would be reckless to take pretext from this undisputed principle to ignore or underestimate the historical weight of authentic heavenly manifestations, past, present and future. How could one dismiss with a generic nihil obstat the heavenly messages of Paray-le-Monial, Lourdes and Fatima, to limit ourselves to those revelations whose divine origin the Church has often solemnly acknowledged?

The faithful should not be pushed toward indifferentism in the face of the supernatural, but should be prepared to discern and welcome it, for it is through this prodigious action that God will restore truth and life to a dying world.