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Vatican Reverses Ban on Blessing Gay Couples

The Vatican has reversed its position banning the blessing of homosexual couples, asserting that a blessing can now be “offered to all without requiring anything.”

In March, 2021, the Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF) issued a statement declaring that the Church has no authority to bless homosexual unions, noting that God Himself “does not and cannot bless sin.”

Blessings require both “the right intention of those who participate” and “that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation,” stated the text, published with the express approval of Pope Francis.

“For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage,” it read, “as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”

At the time, progressive sectors in the Church reacted negatively to the Vatican statement, particularly in the German-speaking world, where blessings of same-sex unions had become common.

Shortly after the publication of the text, over 200 German-speaking Catholic theologians released a statement defying the Vatican declaration, asserting it “is characterized by a paternalistic gesture of superiority and discriminates against homosexual people and their lifestyle.”

The theologians said the Vatican document was lacking “theological depth, interpretive understanding, and argumentative rigor.” By ignoring relevant “scientific findings,” they declared, “the Magisterium undermines its own authority.”

The Vatican’s doctrinal office, under the new leadership of Argentinian Cardinal Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández, has subsequently reassessed its position and now sides with the perspective of the German-speaking bishops.

From a “strictly liturgical point of view,” a blessing requires that what is blessed be conformed to God’s will, affirms the Vatican Declaration Fiducia Supplicans, “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” whereas from a pastoral point of view this need not be so.

Under a broader, pastoral understanding of blessings, “one can understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage,” Cardinal Fernández writes in his presentation of the Declaration.

In the text, Cardinal Fernández insists that allowing the blessing of objectively sinful relationships avoids “the danger that a pastoral gesture that is so beloved and widespread will be subjected to too many moral prerequisites,” which “could overshadow the unconditional power of God’s love that forms the basis for the gesture of blessing.”

“Such blessings are meant for everyone; no one is to be excluded from them,” the text states.

By extension, since a blessing can now be “offered to all without requiring anything,” one must suppose that sweatshops, drug cartels, prostitution rings, abortion clinics, and child pornography studios should not be denied a blessing if they request one.

The very act of requesting a blessing means acknowledging “that the life of the Church springs from the womb of God’s mercy and helps us to move forward, to live better, and to respond to the Lord’s will,” the text states.

“Thus, when people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it,” Fernández writes. “For, those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection.”

“This world needs blessings, and we can give blessings and receive blessings,” the Declaration states.

In this way, “every brother and every sister will be able to feel that, in the Church, they are always pilgrims, always beggars, always loved, and, despite everything, always blessed,” it concludes.

 

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