The Vatican on Monday approved a landmark ruling to allow Roman Catholic priests to administer blessing to same-sex couples as long as it was not part of regular Church rituals or liturgies, nor given in contexts related to civil unions or weddings.
Aljazeera reported that a document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office approved by Pope Francis on Monday said such blessings would not legitimise irregular situations but be a sign that God welcomed all.
The document backed “the possibility of blessing for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex” but “this blessing should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them.”
It said priests should decide 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”.
The document elaborates on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October.
In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessing could be offered under some circumstances if it didn’t confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage.
The new document, according to Aljazeera, repeats that rationale and elaborates on it, reaffirming that marriage is a lifelong sacrament between a man and a woman.
It stresses that blessing should not be conferred at the same time as a civil union, using set rituals or even with the clothing and gestures that belong in a wedding.
According to VATICAN NEWS, at the heart of the declaration, says Cardinal Cupich in a statement on the Archdiocesan website, “is a call for pastors to take a pastoral approach to being available to people” who recognise the need for God’s help and presence in their lives, without claiming a legitimation of their particular status.
As such, the declaration is a step forward,” the Cardinal explains, adding that it is in keeping both with Pope Francis’ “desire to accompany people pastorally” and with “Jesus’ desire to be present to all people who desire grace and support.”
Also reacting, the spokesperson for the Abuja Archdiocese, Fr. Patrick Alumuku, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, put the issue in perspective. He maintained that the Pope’s position should not be misinterpreted to mean sacrament.