Vatican says priests can't bless same-sex unions, terms them 'not licit'
Rome, Italy: The Vatican has said that priests can not bless same-sex unions, calling any such blessing "not licit". In a statement on Monday, the Holy See referred to same-sex unions as a "choice," described them as sinful and said they "cannot be recognized as objectively ordered" to God's plans.
"The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact 'there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," he Doctrine of the Faith, wrote in the statement.
"At the same time, the Church recalls that God Himself never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world, because for Him 'we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit'. But he does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognise that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. He in fact "takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are," it added.
According to CNN, Pope Francis, who has frequently been praised for his welcoming tone towards LGBTQ+ people both within and outside the Church, approved the note.
The decision comes as a setback for Catholics who had hoped the institution would modernise its approach to homosexuality. Dozens of countries, include many in western Europe, have legalised same-sex marriages, and the Church's reticence to embrace the queer community has long held the potential to alienate it from younger followers. "It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex," the statement said.
"The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator's plan," it added.
CNN reported that the decision will alarm those who pinned their hopes of a more open and progressive Catholic leadership on the reformist Pope. Last year, it seemed that the Pope advocated for civil union laws for same-sex couples when he gave an interview for a documentary. But the Vatican rowed back from those remarks, saying they had been taken out of context and did not indicate a change in doctrine.
"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," the Pope said as quoted by CNN, and further added: "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."