Pope Francis has taken a significant step in his efforts to foster a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ Catholics within the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican announced on Monday that priests are now permitted to bless same-sex couples. However, the Vatican clarified that such blessings should not be incorporated into regular Church rituals or associated with civil unions or weddings. The stance on marriage as being between a man and a woman remains unchanged, emphasizing that the permission for blessings is a symbolic gesture indicating that “God welcomes all.” The decision places the responsibility on priests to assess each case individually.
This new directive was outlined in a declaration issued by the church’s office on doctrine, introduced by Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the office. He emphasized that the declaration does not alter the traditional doctrine of the church on marriage since it avoids introducing liturgical rites that could be confused with the sacrament of marriage.
While Pope Francis endorsed the declaration, Cardinal Fernández, in the introduction, acknowledged that the expansion of those eligible for blessings represents “a real development” and a “specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings.” He attributed the decision to the pastoral vision of Pope Francis.
Within the Catholic Church, a blessing is a prayer or plea, typically delivered by a minister, seeking God’s favor for the individuals being blessed.