Pope Francis Allows Priests to Bless Same-Sex Relationships

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

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Pope Francis has officially announced same-sex unions can be blessed in the Catholic church. Sean Gallup Getty Images.

By Ana Faguy, Forbes.  Pope Francis has formally approved same-sex blessings in a statement that clears the way for Catholic priests to bless people without subjecting them to “an exhaustive moral analysis.”

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The document, released on Monday by the Vatican, reaffirms marriage as a lifelong sacrament that can only be between a man and woman, but says that blessings can be offered under some circumstances and that priests should use “pastoral charity” when it comes to blessing requests.

The announcement indicates the blessings must be non-liturgical — which means informal from regular church practices — and shouldn’t be given at the same time as a civil union using set rituals, clothing and gestures that accompany a wedding.

The announcement is the latest in a string of radical changes to the church under Francis’ tenure.

Monday’s announcement reverses a 2021 Vatican ruling that condemned the blessings of same-sex unions saying God “cannot bless sin”.

The Statement

“Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God,” the document said.

“The request for a blessing, thus, expresses and nurtures openness to the transcendence, mercy, and closeness to God in a thousand concrete circumstances of life, which is no small thing in the world in which we live.”

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Background

Monday’s announcement is not a total surprise as the Pope had hinted he might formally approve same-sex blessings in October.

In the fall, the Vatican released Francis’ response to conservative cardinals who had written to the Pope about the possibility of same-sex couples being blessed. The conservative cardinals strongly opposed the idea, but Francis suggested the approval of the blessings was a possibility.

The church has long opposed same-sex marriage as it has said it believes marriage is a union between a man and woman, and because is also opposes homosexuality.

Since Francis was appointed Pope in 2013, he’s made more accepting statements about same-sex couples. Four months after becoming Pope, Francis said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Earlier this year, Pope Francis described homosexuality as a sin, “but isn’t a crime,” in criticizing anti-LGBTQ laws.

His statements starkly contrast with remarks from his predecessor, Benedict XVI who wrote in 2005 that homosexuality is “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”

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