On Monday, December 18, Pope Francis, almost eighty-seven, approved a new rule that allows priests to bless same-sex couples. But before you yell, “Hurray, Gay Pride has finally arrived at the Catholic Church!” the Pope’s announcement, during his Christmas message to the Curia, the Vatican’s Central Administration, is limiting at its best.
On December 21, His Holiness mentioned the continuing debate between progressives and conservatives: “Let us remain vigilant against rigid ideological positions that often, under the guise of good intentions, separate us from reality and prevent us from moving forward.”
The blessing of same-sex couples represents a seismic shift away from the 2021 ruling from the Vatican doctrine office which barred any blessing because “God cannot bless the “sin” of homosexuality. In Pope Francis’s well-known response to a reporter after his trip to South America on July 29, 2013, he said, “if someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Seven years later, in a 2020 documentary, The Pope voiced support for civil same-sex unions; “what we have to create is a civil union law.” He insisted that“The Catholic Church can’t simply become judges who only deny, reject, and exclude and needs to have a broader understanding of blessings.”
Yet, he is leaving the blessings to the discernment of ordained ministers, deacons and priests. In other words, it gives the more Conservative Heads of their Catholic churches license to discriminate against an already marginalized group. Furthermore, the blessings may be only carried out providing they aren’t part of regular church rituals or liturgies and not at the same time as a civil union.
While The Pope within his ten years as Head of the largest Church of Christianity has tried to make church more welcoming, he also has not changed any part of the Church’s teachings on moral issues. Marriage is still only between a man and a woman and is wedded to the concept that it is for procreation and the education of Christian children.
Until LGBT+ couples are able to wed in the Catholic Church, the present traditions are not furthering progress in the church nor do they have my blessings.
Sources: CNN, Reuters, New York Times, American Magazine
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
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