Pope Francis gives priests greenlight to bless same-sex couples

In a groundbreaking move within the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has given his endorsement for priests to bestow blessings upon same-sex couples.

Pope Francis holds a Holy Mass on May 16, 2021.Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images

This notable departure from traditional norms was formalized in a document issued by the Vatican on Monday, signalling a significant stride for the LGBT community within the Church.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church clarified that such blessings should only be granted under specific circumstances and should not be incorporated into regular Church rituals or associated with civil unions or weddings. Despite this shift, the Vatican reiterated its steadfast position, affirming marriage as an exclusive union between a man and a woman.

The approved document carries the message that this adjustment reflects an understanding that God welcomes all. However, it underscores the discretion of individual priests, stressing that decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Church's prefect, introduced the document, emphasizing its commitment to the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage. He highlighted that this modification aligns with Pope Francis's pastoral vision of expanding the Catholic Church's appeal, allowing priests to bless relationships still categorized as sinful.

It is crucial to note that the document emphasizes that those receiving blessings should not be required to have prior moral perfection. In Catholic tradition, a blessing is essentially a prayer or entreaty, typically delivered by a minister, seeking divine favour for those being blessed.


Cardinal Fernández made it clear that the revised stance does not confer validation upon the status of same-sex couples within the Catholic Church. While the declaration suggests a more lenient tone, it does not signify an official change in the Church's position. Notably, in 2021, Pope Francis asserted that priests could not bless same-sex marriages, asserting that God cannot bless sin.

Pope Francis had hinted at his openness to the idea of the Church blessing same-sex couples in October. Before this official declaration, certain bishops in certain countries had already permitted priests to bestow blessings upon same-sex couples, creating ambiguity regarding the Church's overarching stance on the matter.


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