Vatican Refuses To Bless Same‑Sex Marriages, Calling Them a ‘Sin’
The Catholic Church on Monday announced that it doesn’t support same-sex unions, saying that God “cannot bless sin.” The Vatican’s statement, signed off on by Pope Francis, reiterates the conservative position of the Church regarding gay marriage.
“God does not and cannot bless sin. It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” the statement said. It was in response to a question asking whether Catholic clergy had the authority to bless gay unions. “RESPONSE: Negative,” the document unequivocally answered.
The decree comes after Pope Francis tepidly indicated support for same-sex unions last year and could widen the chasm between the Church and the queer community as well as a younger generation of followers who are both less religious than previous generations and highly politically active.
The Vatican said the refusal to bless same-sex unions does not apply to queer identities individually; LGBTQ+ people are eligible to receive blessings from the Church if they live according to Catholic values. But blessing same-sex unions, the Vatican said, would send a sign that the Catholic Church approves and encourages “a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God.”
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The statement avers: “He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him.” Catholic teaching says that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman, is part of God’s plan, and is intended for the sake of creating new life. Since gay unions aren’t intended to be part of that plan, the document explains, their union can’t be blessed by the Church.
The decision comes as a disappointment to those who had hoped for more progressive Catholic leadership and as well as members of the Catholic LGBTQ+ community. As countries around the world move to legally recognize same-sex marriages, the Church’s insistence to uphold archaic views potentially alienates it from younger followers, especially those from the queer community.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, America’s largest spiritual community of gay Catholics, said to The Washington Post that it is “hard for a lot of people to understand just how far removed the Church is from human rights advances that are being made in the rest of society.” Many others on the internet have pointed out the Church’s hypocrisy as well.
Last year, the Pope had roused hopes among LGBTQ+ Catholics by saying that civil union laws should “legally cover” same-sex unions. The Vatican later withdrew the remarks, saying these words had been taken out of context and did not indicate any change in the institution’s doctrine.
Despite this, there is little expectation the Pope will challenge the Church’s reiterated stance on LGBTQ+ matters, as he has previously termed homosexual acts a sin. The Vatican termed gay sex as “intrinsically disordered” in earlier statements, despite maintaining that gay individuals should be treated with dignity.
Pronouncements such as these encourage a kind of language that LGBTQ+ Catholics find especially dysphoric and alienating. This statement echoes what other governments and institutions across the world, India included, have held about queerness.
Activists and queer people globally swiftly denounced the Vatican’s statement and reiterated how the Church is a censervative, patriarchal institution that constantly upholds sexism and homophobia. Many see little pertinence of these orders to their personal lives — saying that these ‘sinful’ acts would go on, “regardless of the reprimands.”