The Vatican said Monday the priests cannot bless same-sex unions, dashing hopes among gay Catholics for a more moderate church under Pope Francis.
In a decree approved by Pope Francis, the Vatican’s doctrinal office said the blessing of same-sex unions would signal the church approves of and encourages a “choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered.”
“The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a lengthy statement explaining the decision, adding that God “cannot bless sin.”
The statement was issued in response to questions from churches that have sought to modernize their stance toward the LGBTQ community, as a growing number of countries have legalized same-sex marriage.
Gay members of the Catholic Church, which has roughly 1.3 billion members, have hoped for more openness as Pope Francis took a less conservative tone toward the LGBTQ community. Francis became the first pontiff to endorse same-sex civil unions in 2020. But after calls for clarification from conservatives, the Vatican said the pope was only referring to civil union laws rather than within the church.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in the documentary “Francesco.” “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
he decree Monday drew sharp backlash from gay Catholics and advocates. The view that being gay is a choice has been widely discredited by researchers and psychologists. “I hope that the science can be used to educate people a little bit more about how natural and normal same-sex behavior is,” Benjamin Neale, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard, told the New York Times in 2019. “It’s written into our genes and it’s part of our environment. This is part of our species and it’s part of who we are.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the decision was not intended to be “a form of unjust discrimination” and said the church would welcome gay people but not their unions.