Pope Francis Says Church Could Bless Gay Couples

The Vatican has recently published a letter Pope Francis wrote to the cardinals on 11 July, with a list of five dubia, questions brought to the Pope that seek a simple “yes” or “no” response to clarify Catholic teachings. As the Pope’s response to each of these was at length and not a simple “yes” or “no”, the dubium were resubmitted in August, requesting the Pope to respond again with a “yes or no”. When the Pope did not, the cardinals made the texts public and issued a notification warning to the faithful. The reveal of the contents of the letter shocked the Catholic community at large. 

The second of these dubia questioned whether the practice of the blessing of same-sex unions would be in accord with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis responded that these blessings could be considered if they did not confuse the blessing with sacramental marriage.

Despite the Vatican holding that marriage is strictly an union between man and woman, Pope Francis has previously expressed support for civil laws that extend legal benefits to same-sex couples. 

More specifically, in this new letter, he explained how pastoral charity required patience and understanding, and advised priests to not become judges who only deny, reject, and exclude.

Francis suggested that pastoral charity could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and that while there were situations not morally acceptable, the same pastoral charity required people be treated as sinners who might not be fully at fault for their situations.

These news marks a reversal from the Vatican’s official position on the blessing of gay unions, explicitly expressed in an explanatory note from 2021. In this note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that the church couldn’t bless gay unions, because “God cannot bless sin.”

While many LGBT+ catholics expressed happiness and relief upon hearing these news, we all know the Church is not homogeneous when it comes to LGBT+ rights. Interestingly, the letter has been published days ahead of the Synod of Bishops, where the Vatican addresses controversial issues, such as the participation of LGBT+ Catholics in the Church, women deacons, and married men becoming part of the priesthood.

Some criticized the voice as the Church’s attempt to win back followers and attract younger generations as part of their faithful.

Is this another step in the right direction for the Church’s mission on acceptance and forgiveness, or another thinly-veiled attempt at gathering new followers?

We might discover the Pope’s real intentions in October 4 through 29, during the first session of the Synod of Bishops.