Vatican excludes gay union blessing, saying God ‘cannot bless sin’

The Vatican maintains that homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “inherently messy.”

The Vatican decreed Monday that the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex unions since God “cannot bless sin.”

The Vatican’s office of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, released an official response to a question on whether the Catholic clergy has the power to bless gay unions on Monday. The answer, contained in a two-page explanation published in seven languages ​​and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative”.

The memo distinguished between the Church’s welcoming and blessing to homosexuals, which she supported, but not their unions. He argued that such unions are not part of God’s plan and that such sacramental recognition could be confused with marriage.

The note immediately discouraged advocates of LGBT Catholics and threw a wrench into the debate within the German church, which has been at the forefront of the opening discussion on burning issues such as education. of the church on homosexuality.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the New Paths ministry, which advocates for greater acceptance of homosexuals in the church, predicted that the Vatican’s position will be ignored, including by some members of the Catholic clergy.

“Catholics recognize the holiness of love between committed same-sex couples and recognize that this love is inspired and sustained by God and thus meets the standard of being blessed,” he said in a statement.

The Vatican maintains that homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “inherently messy.” Catholic teaching holds that marriage, a permanent union between a man and a woman, is part of God’s plan and aims to create new life.

Since gay unions are not supposed to be part of this plan, they cannot be blessed by the church, the document says.

“The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which in themselves must be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and make them legitimate objects of ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist in the context of an unordered union with the Creator. plan, ”the response said.

God “does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he can recognize that he is part of his plan of love and let himself be changed by it,” he says.

Francis approved of granting legal protections to same-sex couples in same-sex unions, but this was in reference to the civil sphere, not within the church. These comments were made in a 2019 interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa but were cut off by the Vatican until they appeared in a documentary last year.

While the documentary film tampered with the context, Francis was referring to the position he took when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. At the time, Argentinian lawmakers were considering approving gay marriage, which he and the Catholic Church opposed. Rather, then cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio supported providing legal protections to homosexuals living in stable unions through a so-called “civil cohabitation law”.

Francis told Televisa: “Homosexuals have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. Speaking of families with gay children, he said: ‘You cannot kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for it. What we need to have is a civil union law; this way they are legally covered. “

In the new document and an accompanying unsigned article, the Vatican said questions had been raised about whether the Church should sacramentally bless same-sex unions in recent years, and after that François insisted on the need to better welcome and support homosexuals in the church.

Reverend James Martin, a Jesuit and advocate for building bridges with the LGBT community, said the Vatican note appeared to be a response to pressure within the German church before a consultative assembly to consider granting blessings from church to same-sex couples. The German church has been at the forefront of the debate over celibacy, contraception and the church’s outreach to gay Catholics, under pressure from a powerful lay Catholic group demanding change.

“This appears to be the Vatican’s response to some German bishops who had raised this possibility, as their country’s synod approached, as a way to reach LGBTQ people,” Martin said in an email.

In a statement, the head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, said the new document would be incorporated into the German discussion, but suggested that the case was by no means closed.

“There are no easy answers to questions like these,” he said, adding that the German Church was not looking only at the current moral teaching of the Church, but the development of the doctrine and the real reality of Catholics today.

Other commentators have noted that the Catholic Book of Blessings contains rites of blessings that can be bestowed on everything from new homes and factories to animals, sporting events, pre-planting seeds, and agricultural implements.

In the article, the Vatican highlighted the “fundamental and decisive distinction” between homosexuals and same-sex unions, noting that “negative judgment on the blessing of same-sex unions does not imply judgment on individuals” .

But he explained the reason for prohibiting a blessing of such unions, noting that any union that involves sexual activity outside of marriage cannot be blessed because it is not in a state of grace, or “ordered to. both to receive and to express the good that is spoken. and given by blessing.

And he added that the blessing of a same-sex union could give the impression of a sort of sacramental equivalence to marriage. “That would be wrong and misleading,” the article says.

In 2003, the same Vatican office issued a similar decree saying that the Church’s respect for homosexuals “can in no way lead to the approval of homosexual behavior or the legal recognition of same-sex unions.”

To do so, the Vatican then reasoned, would not only tolerate “deviant behavior”, but would create an equivalence to marriage, which the Church regards as an indissoluble union between man and woman.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the US-based NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and advocate for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the church, said she was delighted the Vatican statement was not worst.

She said she interpreted the statement to say, “You can bless people (in a same-sex union), you just can’t bless the contract.”

“So it is possible that you have a ritual where individuals are lucky enough to be engaged themselves.”

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