After taking strides toward including the LGBTQ+ community over the past few months, the Pope has officially approved the blessings of same-sex marriages in the Catholic church.
The church began conversations to consider the approval of these blessings back in October when a document was released detailing the pope’s responses to questions posed by cardinals on same-sex marriage. Francis’ letter detailed that marriage is between a man a woman by Catholic definition, but addresses questions from the cardinals’ on gay unions saying “pastoral charity” requires patience and understanding that regardless, priests cannot become judges “who only deny, reject and exclude.”
According to NPR: The declaration, published Monday in a new document titled “Fiducia Supplicans: On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” marks a major departure for the Vatican, which only two years ago had said God “cannot bless sin” in a controversial 2021 decision about same-sex couples. Monday’s document was approved by Pope Francis.
Still, the Vatican stressed that marriage remains exclusively between a man and a woman, and any priests granting a blessing to a same-sex couple must “avoid any form of confusion or scandal” that could suggest otherwise.
Francis, 87, has made liberalization toward LGBTQ Catholics a hallmark of his papacy. Since he became pope in 2013, he has urged the decriminalization of homosexuality. When asked in 2013 about gay priests, he famously replied: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Monday’s declaration is a “major step forward” for the church in regards to LGBTQ people, said the Rev. James Martin, an American Jesuit priest who has advocated for the LGBTQ Catholic community. The declaration “recognizes the deep desire in many Catholic same-sex couples for God’s presence in their loving relationships,” Martin wrote on the social media site X. “In short, yesterday, as a priest, I was forbidden to bless same-sex couples at all. Today, with some limitations, I can.”