Pope suggests priests could bless same-sex unions


Pope Francis has hinted at the possibility of priests offering blessings to same-sex couples, marking a significant development in the Catholic Church’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues.

The Pope made these remarks in a document drafted in July, designed to address questions from five conservative cardinals on topics including women in the priesthood and the recognition of same-sex unions.

These responses had remained undisclosed but were made public this week after the cardinals expressed their dissatisfaction with some of the Pope’s answers.

Pope advocates for “pastoral charity”

Francis made it clear that the church only recognises marriage as “an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to begetting children.”

He wrote that “Other forms of union are only realised ‘in a partial and analogous way’, which is why they cannot strictly be called ‘marriage.’”

The pontiff, however, emphasised that “we cannot become judges who only reject, deny and exclude.”

He suggested that priests could apply “pastoral prudence” and “pastoral charity” when considering “forms of blessing, requested by one or various people.”

He stressed that any flexibility that “may be part of pastoral prudence” does not have to “become a norm” or official church doctrine.

An enormous advance towards equality

The pope’s statements have been welcomed by progressive Catholics, who view them as a significant step towards the Church’s recognition of same-sex relationships.

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of LGBTQ Catholic group New Ways Ministry, asserted that while they don’t provide full endorsement of same-sex unions, they do advance Pope Francis’ work to include and affirm LGBTQ+ individuals.

“The allowance for pastoral ministers to bless same-gender couples implies that the church does indeed recognise that holy love can exist between same-gender couples, and the love of these couples mirrors the love of God,” he said.

DeBernardo continued: “Those recognitions, while not completely what LGBTQ+ Catholics would want, are an enormous advance towards fuller and more comprehensive equality. This statement is one big straw towards breaking the camel’s back of the marginalised treatment LGBTQ+ people experience in the Church.”

Pope Francis has previously advocated against the judgment and discrimination of gays and lesbians. He has met with parents of LGBTQ+ children and supported the legal recognition of same-sex unions by the state (though not by the Church). However, he remains opposed to the ordination of women as priests and has expressed reservations about transgender rights and gender diversity.

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