Pope Francis allows priests to bless same-sex marriages

Pope Francis has formally permitted priests to bless same-sex couples, with a new document explaining a significant shift in Vatican policy by insisting that people seeking God’s love and mercy shouldn’t be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive it, AP News is reporting.

The document from the Vatican’s doctrine office, released on Monday, elaborates on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October. In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessings could be offered under some circumstances if they didn’t confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage.

The new document repeats that condition and elaborates on it, reaffirming that marriage is a lifelong sacrament between a man and a woman. And it stresses that blessings in question must be non-liturgical in nature and should not be conferred at the same time as a civil union, using set rituals or even with the clothing and gestures that belong in a wedding.

But it says requests for such blessings for same-s+x couples should not be denied full stop. It offers an extensive and broad definition of the term “blessing” in Scripture to insist that people seeking a transcendent relationship with God and looking for his love and mercy should not be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” as a precondition for receiving it.

Priests have long blessed a wide variety of people, offering a prayer asking for God’s help and presence. The Vatican had long said it could not bless same-sex couples because it would undermine church doctrine that marriage is only between a man and a woman. In 2021, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said flat-out that the church couldn’t bless the unions of two men or two women because ‘God cannot bless sin.’

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That document created an outcry, one it appeared even Francis was blindsided by even though he had technically approved its publication. Soon after it was published, he removed the official responsible for it and set about laying the groundwork for a reversal.

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