Vatican says Catholic Church can’t bless same-sex unions because God ‘can’t bless sin’

The Catholic Church and its priests cannot bless same-sex unions since God “cannot bless sin,” the Vatican said Monday.

The Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said it was responding to questions about gay unions. The two-page statement published in seven languages was approved by Pope Francis.

“The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” the statement says, adding that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

The church and priests can still bless people who are gay who live in “fidelity,” the statement says. “Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions.”

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an LGBTQ-centered Catholic ministry, told USA TODAY the statement was disappointing but not surprising. Catholics, he said, will continue to find creative ways to bless the couples they love and support.

“What the Vatican doesn’t realize is that the Catholic faithful are not satisfied with that answer,” DeBernardo said. “Catholic people recognize the holiness of the love between committed same-sex couples and recognize this love as divinely inspired and divinely supported and thus meets the standard to be blessed.”  

Monday’s statement from the Vatican comes less than six months after revelations of Pope Francis’ stunning endorsement of same-sex civil unions were made public.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in a 2019 interview for the documentary “Francesco.” “What we have to have is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions. What does this mean for LGBTQ rights in the US?

Legally covered, but not church sanctioned. And Francis made the comment during an interview with a Mexican broadcaster, Televisa, but were cut by the Vatican. They later appeared in a documentary.

Catholics generally are among the more accepting sects of Christianity when it comes to same-sex unions. A Pew survey found that more than half of Catholics in the United States, along with Mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians, support same-sex marriage. 

Monday’s Vatican statement says that God “never ceases” to bless all people, including people who are gay.

“But he does not and cannot bless sin,” the statement says. “He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. … The Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex.”

The pope has a complicated history with the LGBTQ community, specifically on the issue of same-sex marriage. As archbishop of Buenos Aires he endorsed civil unions for gay couples in lieu of same-sex marriages. Months into his papacy, he was quoted as saying: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

However, Francis also has repeatedly condemned same-sex marriage during his time as pope — emphasizing the Catholic dictum of marriage remaining between a man and a woman in multiple statements. 

“The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not … intended to be a form of unjust discrimination,” the statement Monday says. “But rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

Pope Francis celebrates mass on the occasion of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 14, 2021. (Photo: Tiziana Fabi, AP)

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