Pope Francis has said priests can now bless same-sex couples.
The Associated Press reported the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on Dec. 18 released a new document that elaborates on a letter Francis sent earlier this year to five cardinals who urged him to reaffirm church teaching on homosexuality.
Francis in the letter the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released in October suggested priests could offer blessings to same-sex couples under some circumstances “if they didn’t confuse the blessing with sacramental marriage.”
“Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God,” reads the document the Vatican released on Dec. 18, according to the AP. “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.”
New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based organization that ministers to LGBTQ Catholics, described the Vatican’s announcement as “a Christmas gift to LGBTQ+ Catholics.”
“It cannot be overstated how significant the Vatican’s new declaration is,” said New Ways Ministry in a statement. “Approving blessings for same-gender couples is certainly monumental.”
The Vatican’s tone towards LGBTQ issues has softened since Francis assumed the papacy in 2013.
Francis has publicly endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples, and has said laws that criminalize homosexuality are “unjust.” Church teachings on homosexuality and gender identity have nevertheless not changed under Francis’ papacy.
Francis earlier this year told a newspaper in his native Argentina that gender ideology is “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” because “it blurs differences and the value of men and women.”
The pope was the archbishop of Buenos Aires when Argentina’s marriage equality law took effect in 2010. Francis was among those who vehemently opposed the statute before then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed it.
Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.
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