In a decision approved by Pope Francis, the Vatican said Monday that Roman Catholic priests can now give blessings to same-sex couples – as long as they are not part of the church’s regular rituals or liturgies.
A document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office says such blessings would not legitimize “irregular situations” but would be a sign that God welcomes all.
It goes on to say that priests should decide on blessings on a case-by-case basis and “should not prevent or prohibit the Church’s closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God’s help through a simple blessing”.
Already in October, Pope Francis opened up to blessing same-sex couples – provided they are not confused with traditional marriage ceremonies between a man and a woman.
No “moral perfection” required
While the October response was more general, Monday’s document describes more specific and concrete situations and how blessings of “couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples” should be interpreted and performed.
According to the Catholic Church, homosexual acts are considered sinful, but the current pope has spent the last decade trying to make the church more LGBT-friendly and “welcoming” – leading to conflicts with more conservative Catholic officials.
The statement also says that those seeking a blessing should not be subjected to an “exhausting moral analysis”. Those seeking a blessing “should not be required to have prior moral perfection” as a condition for receiving it. Instead, “blessings should be evaluated as acts of devotion.