The Pope has given permission to bless same-sex couples

Now a Catholic priest can bless a union of people of the same sex, but this will happen outside of church rituals and liturgies.

Pope Francis has officially allowed Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples. The move was confirmed in a declaration published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to this document, “nonconforming couples” can receive blessings, provided that this occurs outside of church liturgies and rituals. However, the declaration states that the Church’s teaching on marriage between a man and a woman remains unchanged. It is separately noted that the blessing of a same-sex union should not have any similarities with the wedding ceremony, neither in clothing nor in gestures. However, the move represents a departure from the previous principle that God “cannot bless sin” in favor of the principle of the church being “open to one and all.”

Divided opinions: from positive reactions to fears in conservative circles

The Vatican’s announcement was seen by some as a step towards overcoming discrimination in the Catholic Church. However, according to some LGBT rights advocates, the decision highlights the fact that church views still favor heterosexual unions over same-sex couples. While in conservative circles the news caused sharp criticism of the Holy See, which was expressed in outrage and fears of a possible split.

Franca Giansoldati, Vatican correspondent for Messagero, comments on the pontiff’s decision, which raises objections within the church

Pope Francis has approved a document allowing Catholic priests to bless unmarried couples, including same-sex couples. “The Vatican states that blessings should not be part of normal church rituals or associated with civil unions or weddings. In other words, although this is not a liturgical blessing, it represents a significant step in the Catholic Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community,” it said. Euronews correspondent George Orlandi speaking to the expert.

This is a significant advance. It can almost be compared to the fact that Pope Francis reversed previous decisions made by John Paul II and Pope Benedict, especially considering that in 2021 Pope Francis approved a document denying the possibility of such a move on the part of the church. What has changed during this time? At the last synod, voices appeared calling for such a blessing, for the manifestation of care, these requests were very persistent, and Pope Francis could not ignore them.

However, this move will raise many objections. We are already seeing reactions on social media, mainly from bishops and various church officials expressing their concern. This move has internal consequences for the church, which has never before been as divided as it is today.