News (USA)

Pope Francis approves blessing same-sex couples in “major step forward”

Pope Francis smiles and waves to his congregants.
Pope Francis Photo: Shutterstock

In a major development for Catholic LGBTQ+ couples, Pope Francis has approved the blessing of same-sex unions.

The new rule was included in a declaration issued Monday by the Vatican’s office of the Doctrine of the Faith and signed by Pope Francis. It allows priests to bless same-sex couples for the very first time.

The declaration does not amend “the traditional doctrine of the church about marriage,” according to Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the office of the Doctrine of the Faith, because there is no liturgical rite that could be confused with the marriage sacrament.

The Church still maintains that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

“It is precisely in this context that one can understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage,” he writes in an introduction to the declaration, “Fiducia Supplicans, On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings.”

The document explains the form of the blessing “should not be fixed ritually by ecclesial authorities to avoid producing confusion with the blessing proper to the Sacrament of Marriage.”

Fernández writes the decision to grant same-sex unions a blessing was “based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis” and describes the change as “a real development.”

The document was approved by the pope in a private audience with Fernandez on Monday morning.

“Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God,” Fernández writes. “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.”

He adds, “It is a seed of the Holy Spirit that must be nurtured, not hindered.”

The Rev. James Martin, a prominent American advocate for LGBTQ+ Catholics, hailed the decision as a “marked shift.”

“The Vatican’s new declaration ‘Fiducia supplicans’ is major step forward in the church’s ministry to LGBTQ people and recognizes the deep desire in many Catholic same-sex couples for God’s presence in their loving relationships,” Martin posted to X.

“Along with many priests, I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex unions,” he said.

Francis alluded to the change in a private letter released in October addressed to two conservative cardinals when he suggested blessings for same-sex couples could be offered if they didn’t confuse that ritual with the sacrament of marriage.

Since his accession as head of the 1.3 billion-member church in 2013, Francis has endeavored to make Catholicism more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, despite Church doctrine that still describes homosexuality as a sin.

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

I identify as both trans masculine & a butch lesbian. Here’s why those aren’t the same.

Previous article

The bear & leather communities have a big racism problem

Next article