In a body blow to gay rights, the Vatican has said that the Catholic Church cannot bless same sex unions. Its formal response to the question about whether Catholic clergy could bless same sex unions was “Negative”.
Some Bishops in the United States and Germany had raised questions about blessing same-sex unions, given the legalization of same-sex marriages in their countries. Moreover, Pope Francis had in the past shown a more open-minded and compassionate approach to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer + (LGBTQ+) community.
But on Monday, the Holy See released a statement comprising a two-page explanation, approved by Pope Francis himself, explaining why the decision was taken. In the beginning, the statement tries to sound supportive saying, “God loves every person and so does the Church.” But thereafter, it’s all downhill, with the ‘explanation’ ranging from ‘vague’ to ‘downright’ offensive to the LGBTQ+ people.
It says blessings belong to the genre of sacraments and that “in order to be consistent with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on some human relationships it is necessary – in addition to the right intention of those who participate in it – that what is blessed is objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace,” adding that therefore “only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those designs are compatible with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.” It adds, “For this reason, it is not permissible to impart a blessing to relationships, or even stable partnerships, which involve a sexual practice outside of marriage (that is to say, outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in themselves to the transmission of life), as is the case with same-sex unions.”
This is just a round-about way of saying, it’s okay to be gay, but we can’t bless (and therefore respect) your marriage! But if this infuriates you, wait till you read what comes next.
TRIGGER WARNING: BLATANT HOMOPHOBIA
The Holy See’s statement says, “God himself does not stop blessing each of his pilgrim children in this world, because for him “we are more important than all the sins we can do”. But he neither blesses nor can he bless sin: he blesses the sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. Indeed, he “takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are.” For the above reasons, the Church does not have, nor can it dispose of, the power to bless same-sex unions in the sense understood above.”
The choice of words is a slap in the face of every LGBTQIA person, as the statement not only openly calls homosexuality a “sin”, but also calls for them to allow themselves “to be changed” by God. The Church has, for decades faced massive backlash for running centers that practice gay conversion therapy.
The entire statement released by the Seat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, may be read here.
The statement had unsurprisingly attracted scathing criticism from people across the world:
*Feature image by Alex Proimos via Wikimedia commons.