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Vatican Defends Pope Francis’ Decision to Allow Blessings for Same-Sex Couples

Vatican Defends Pope Francis' Decision to Allow Blessings for Same-Sex Couples

The Vatican defended Pope Francis’ recent decision to permit priests to bless same-sex couples on Thursday, despite facing opposition from bishops worldwide who condemned the doctrine.

The dissent highlights a broader division between traditionalist and more conservative Catholic leaders regarding Francis’ objectives for the institution and its future membership. While the new policy does not endorse same-sex marriages and labels such arrangements as “irregular situations,” bishops in Europe, Africa, and other regions promptly declared their refusal to implement it, as reported by AP.

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church department overseeing Catholic doctrine, released a statement on Thursday, asserting that dissent to the policy indicated a “need for a more extended period of pastoral reflection.” It acknowledged the sensitivity of the policy in countries where homosexuality is strictly prohibited but emphasised that church leaders in such nations have a broader responsibility to defend human dignity.

The department clarified that dissenting from the new policy should not be considered doctrinal opposition, as the policy upholds the church’s longstanding beliefs on marriage and sexuality. It explicitly stated that the blessings for same-sex couples sanctioned by the policy should not be deemed “heretical, contrary to the tradition of the church, or blasphemous.”

According to the department, bishops can adopt the blessings with “prudence and attention to the ecclesial context and to the local culture.” However, they cannot outright prohibit priests from bestowing the blessing.

The new policy underscores that blessings for same-sex couples do not signify an endorsement of same-sex marriages or unions, should not coincide with a civil union, and must not resemble weddings in any manner.

While some dissenting bishops criticised the policy as contradictory and a challenge to the church’s beliefs on the sacrament of marriage and sexuality, others downplayed its novelty, arguing that it restates the Vatican’s traditional doctrines around marriage.

The inclusivity of LGBTQ+ individuals has been part of Francis’ agenda, alongside a focus on social justice issues such as environmental concerns and protections for the poor. Despite promoting acceptance and denouncing laws criminalising homosexuality, Francis has navigated a delicate balance with the church’s historical views, characterising gay sex as “intrinsically disordered.”

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