On Monday, December 18th, Pope Francis approved for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples. This change is aimed at creating a more inclusive environment in the Catholic Church by attempting to break LGBTQ+ discrimination. However, this policy shift does not allow gay marriage in the church and continues to uphold the idea that marriage is for heterosexual couples.
The approved document, known as the "Fiducia Supplicans: On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings," emphasizes the difference between a ceremonial blessing and an informal blessing. The Vatican also made sure to point out that while priests can now bless same-sex couples, they must do so in a way that does not resemble a ceremonial union, including any clothing, words, or gestures that may insinuate a wedding. They clarified that marriage consists of a man and a woman in a lifelong sacrament and that the blessing of same-sex couples should not be recognized as marriage. The document also states that priests may bless divorced and remarried couples.
The document reads “Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God.” It states that blessings should not be something restrained but nurtured instead. The document also reads that “God never turns away anyone who approaches him!”
While some believe this change is groundbreaking and a big step towards change, others say it’s not enough and only highlights the idea that heterosexual couples are superior to same-sex couples.
American Jesuit priest and LGBTQ+ advocate Rev. James Martin posted how this new regulation from the church “...recognizes the deep desire in many Catholic same-sex couples for God's presence in their loving relationships.”
President of the Catholics for Choice Jamie Manson stated that the “LGBTQ people will not have justice in our church until we have access to all the sacraments of the church — in this case, the sacrament of marriage.”
While there is some conflict on this announcement, the fact is that Pope Francis has opened more doors for the LGBTQ+ community than any other Pope has in the past. A few months ago, another step towards change the Vatican took this year was to allow transgender people to get baptized and also the opportunity to serve as godparents through the Catholic Church. Before that, in January of this year, Pope Francis stated that “being homosexual isn’t a crime” during an interview with The Associated Press. He referred to criminalized homosexuality as “unjust” and “a sin” in the same interview.
This declaration is simply another illustration of Pope Francis’ actions throughout his decade as Pope.He stated that the Catholic Church is open to everyone, and his actions toward attempting to make the church a more welcoming and inclusive place have significantly backed up that statement.
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