The Vatican released the latest document featuring Pope Francis-approved responses to questions about official positions of the Catholic Church. Asked if clergy within the Catholic Church were allowed to offer blessings to same-sex unions, the official response was “negative.”
Despite comments by Pope Francis surfacing last year that seemed accepting of LGBTQ people, and the Vatican stressing that it still “welcomes” parishioners in non-traditional marriages or same-sex relationships, the Church posits that it is still unable to bless people in non-traditional marriages because God “does not and cannot bless sin.”
The Associated Press reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the orthodoxy office created in the Vatican to “defend” the Church’s doctrine, released this official explanation today, after the Pope “gave his assent” to it. The answers to the question, “does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” were written on February 22.
In the formal two-page response, translated into seven languages, the Congregation justified this position by adding that same-sex relationships and LGBTQ families are “valued and appreciated,” but that they can’t “justify” those relationships before God.
“In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced,” the response began, before quoting Pope Francis himself. “Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual… ‘so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.'”
“Rejecting all unjust discrimination” is the “responsibility” of all within the clergy, they continue, but they explain that blessing a relationship is different than being welcoming.
“When a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace,” the response continued, “according to the designs of God inscribed in creation…”
“For this reason,” the response stated, “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage… as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”
While same-sex relationships have “the presence” of “positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated,” the Church refuses to “render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”
The response goes on to direct “the Christian community and its Pastors” to “welcome with respect and sensitivity” any people “with homosexual inclinations.” Christians, the Congregation wrote, “will know how to find the most appropriate ways” to do so.
The Vatican further emphasizes that individual gay people are still allowed to receive blessings from the Church, because “we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit.” But, they explained, “He 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.”
This marks another chapter in the term of Pope Francis when it comes to the acceptance of LGBTQ people in the Catholic Church. In October, Pope Francis’s comments in support for civil unions for same-sex couples made headlines.
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” Pope Francis was initially reported as saying in comments featured out of context in the documentary Francesco. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
While Pope Francis’ critics and opponents within Christianity denounced him for the comments that were maligned as an attempt to “normalize homosexuality,” the comments were made in an unaired interview in 2019 where the Pope reviewed his time supporting civil unions — as opposed to marriage equality — for people in same-sex relationships as the Archbishop of Bueno Aires, Argentina.
The Vatican stressed that the Pope did not support marriage equality and released another part of the interview where he says, “It is a contradiction to speak of homosexual marriage.”