Pope Francis has indicated that he is open to the idea of the Catholic Church blessing same-sex marriages.
In response to a group of cardinals seeking clarification on this matter, Pope Francis stated that any requests for blessings should be approached with “pastoral love.” He stated, “We cannot be judges who only reject and exclude.”
However, Pope Francis emphasized that the Church still considers same-sex relationships to be “objectively sinful” and will not recognize same-sex marriages.
The request for clarification on this issue was among several sent to the Pope ahead of a global meeting set to begin next week at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Church.
In the Catholic Church, a blessing is typically a prayer or invocation by a priest, asking God to look favorably and lovingly upon the individuals receiving the blessing.
In recent times, bishops in several countries, including Belgium and Germany, have allowed priests to bless same-sex unions. However, the official stance of the Church on such matters has remained unclear.
In 2021, in response to a similar request for clarification, the Vatican’s doctrinal office ruled against allowing such practices.
In his response to the latest request by a group of cardinals, Pope Francis acknowledged that marriage in the Church is seen as a “unique and unbreakable union between a man and a woman” and should avoid “any kind of conduct or use of symbols that could confuse this conviction.”
Pope Francis suggested that blessing requests should be considered on a case-by-case basis, stating that “pastoral discernment” should determine whether such blessings are appropriate and do not convey a “wrong idea” of marriage.
Pope Francis seemed to propose that the issue of blessings should be addressed individually, stating that “decisions that may be part of pastoral discernment in certain circumstances should not necessarily become a rule.”
Pope Francis stressed that the Church must always deal with its relationships with people “with kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement.”
In February of last year, a vote conducted by prominent figures in the Church of England approved proposals to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. This move means that same-sex couples, after civil marriage, can approach the Anglican Church for a consecration prayer and blessing.