Vatican won’t allow priests to bless same-sex unions
The Vatican has declared in a ruling that priests cannot bless same-sex unions and that any such blessings are not valid.
The Vatican ruling was in response to formal questions from some dioceses on whether to allow the practice.
The Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued the negative ruling and said Pope Francis had approved it.
The statement said that God “does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him.”
The CDF said this was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite” of the sacrament of marriage and any such blessing in relation to this.
Vatican’s response to the practice of blessings
The Vatican had issued the ruling after parishes and ministers in countries like the US and Germany had begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage.
Because of this, some had called on bishops to de facto institutionalize the practices. Meanwhile, conservatives had expressed alarm over these blessings.
In response to the ruling, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the New Ways Ministry, a gay Catholics group, said: “It is not surprising, but still disappointing, that the Vatican has responded ‘no’.”
“Catholic people recognize the holiness of the love between committed same-sex couples and recognize this love as divinely inspired and divinely supported and thus meets the standard to be blessed,” he said in a statement.
Likewise, Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, which supports gays in the Church, said this “will exacerbate the pain and anger of LGBTQI Catholics and our families.”
It will also hurt “couples who live deeply loving and committed relationships,” Duddy-Burke said.
Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals, said this was proof that despite Pope Francis, the institutional church wouldn’t change.
The positions of the Pope Francis and the Vatican
The Roman Catholic Church advocates that being gay is not inherently sinful, but forbids same-sex sexual activity.
Even before Pope Francis attained his papal position, he has supported the right of LGBT couples to have civil legal protections but always opposed gay marriage.
As pope, he has already met with gay couples and parents, and had remarked about gays living with Church rules in 2013, “Who am I to judge?”
The Vatican also had to clarify a previous statement made by Pope Francis on civil union laws in a documentary, saying it was taken out of context.
The CDF explained in a note while the blessing of same-sex couples should not be allowed, this “in no way detracts from the human and Christian consideration in which the Church holds each person.”
They also said the Church can bestow blessings “to individual persons with homosexual inclinations who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching.”
What’s more, they said the blessing a same-sex union gives the impression of a kind of sacramental equivalence to marriage, which they said was “erroneous and misleading.”