Vatican’s Blessing of Same-Sex Couples a ‘Major Step Forward’

Jesuit Father James Martin wrote in an essay that the Vatican’s approval of blessings for same-sex couples is a “major step forward for LGBTQ Catholics.”

“[T]he declaration opens the door, for the first time, for the official blessings of same-sex couples by ministers of the church—something that has long been desired by LGBTQ Catholics and their families and friends,” he wrote.

He noted that the declaration allowing same-sex blessings “treats same-sex couples with such pastoral care.”

“Before this document was issued, there was no permission for bishops, priests and deacons to bless couples in same-sex unions in any setting. This document establishes, with some limitations, that they can,” Martin added.

He emphasized, “Today, with some limitations, I can perform a public blessing of a same-sex couple. Yesterday, I could not.”

“Such theological reflection, based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis, implies a real development from what has been said about blessings in the Magisterium and the official texts of the Church,” Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández explained in the declaration.

He added, however, that the updated position is not seen as “officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.”

In an October letter, Pope Francis remarked, “Pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or several people, that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage,” according to a report from the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

He noted, “Defending what the church teaches to be objective truth does not mean that church leaders “become judges who only deny, reject, exclude.”

He went on to say that “[w]hen you ask for a blessing you are expressing a request for help from God, a prayer to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us live better.”

This recent letter from Pope Francis seems to pivot from a Vatican decree in March 2021, which explicitly stated that priests couldn’t bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”