The Vatican announced this week that Roman Catholic priests can administer blessings to same-sex couples as long as they’re not a part of regular Church rituals or liturgies. The “landmark ruling” was approved by Pope Francis and released to the public in a document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office.
This declaration reversed a previous ruling from 2021 that said blessings for same-sex couples would not “legitimize irregular situations but be a sign that God welcomes all,” according to reports from Reuters.
The declaration also added that this new ruling should not be confused with the Catholic Church’s sacrament of heterosexual marriage. Reuters reported that “priests should decide on a case-by-case basis and should not prevent or prohibit the Church’s closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God’s help through a simple blessing.”
The Church teaches that while same-sex attraction is not sinful, homosexual acts are. Pope Francis has made various proclamations since his election in 2013 in support of the LGBT community.
Father James Martin, an American Jesuit priest who ministers for the LGBT community, called the document “a major step forward in the church’s ministry” to them.
Martin said “the document recognizes the deep desire in many Catholic same-sex couples for God’s presence in their loving relationships, along with many priests, I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex unions.”
According to Francis DeBernardo, an executive director of a group that advocates for LGBT rights in the church known as New Ways Ministry, said that “the document’s importance cannot be overstated.
The document said 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.
It can be applied to those who do not claim a legitimation of their own status, but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
“Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God, which must be nurtured, not hindered.”
The document also stated that “the blessing should not be linked to or timed with a civil marriage ceremony and be performed with none of the clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding.
Places for such blessings might be in other contexts, such as a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage”.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.