The Vatican said on Monday in a landmark ruling approved by Pope Francis that Roman Catholic priests can administer blessings to same-sex couples as long as they are not part of regular Church rituals or liturgies.
A document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office said such blessings would not legitimise irregular situations but be a sign that God welcomes all.
It said 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”.
“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.”
The pope hinted that an official change was in the works in October in response to questions put forward by five conservative cardinals at the start of a synod of bishops at the Vatican.
While the response in October was more nuanced, Monday’s eight-page document, whose subtitle is “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”, spelled out specific situations. An 11-page section was titled “Blessings of Couples in Irregular Situations and of Couples of the Same sex”.
The Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not sinful but homosexual acts are. Since his election in 2013, Francis has tried to make the 1.3 billion-member Church more welcoming to LGBT people without changing moral doctrine on same-sex activity.
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: Reuters)