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HomeGeneralPope Francis Approves Blessing LGBTQ Couples Outside Marriage Rituals

Pope Francis Approves Blessing LGBTQ Couples Outside Marriage Rituals

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Pope Francis
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Pope Francis formally grants priests the right to perform blessings for same-sex couples. This move has caused a lot of discussion. It stops just short of sanctioning same-sex marriages.

But as far as some LGBTQ advocates are concerned, it is a historic step in the right direction. The document from the Vatican’s doctrine office has been making rounds on the internet since its release on Monday.

It reaffirmed its previous statements claiming marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. However, the document says requests for blessings from same-sex couples should not be denied. But only as long as the blessing does not happen simultaneously as a civil union.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis is one of those excited by the move. She calls the announcement “the latest in a historic pattern of actions and announcements from Pope Francis which show that LGBTQ people should not be used as a dividing issue, and we are worthy of love, respect and compassion.”

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“By removing barriers to priests blessing LGBTQ couples, the Pope accurately recognizes that LGBTQ people and our relationships are worthy of the same affirmation and support in the Church. And this strengthens couples in their faith and community,” Ellis says.

The document says people who want a relationship with God should not be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” as a precondition for receiving it.

“Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God,” the document said. “The request for a blessing, thus, expresses and nurtures openness to the transcendence, mercy, and closeness to God in a thousand concrete circumstances of life, which is no small thing in the world we live.”

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It says the blessing is a seed of the Holy Spirit that must be “nurtured, not hindered.”

The Vatican’s doctrine office document elaborates on Francis’s letter to two conservative cardinals in October. In that preliminary response, the pope suggested that blessings could happen under some circumstances as long as they had nothing to do with the ritual of the sacrament of marriage.

Jim Bretzke is a priest and professor of theology at John Carroll University in Ohio. He believes the Pope will likely face criticism. But he calls the document a “very positive contribution.”

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Bretzke called it a “real watershed moment” in how the church responds to people in irregular unions and same-sex unions.

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Now that the pope has sanctioned blessings for the LGBTQ, many wonder if it means the Catholic Church will embrace same-sex marriage. According to Bretzke, although the document is a positive step forward, he doesn’t think it’s an indicator that the church will accept same-sex marriage.

Others believe that the document will result in more same-sex couples receiving blessings. Some think it will eventually open up a more significant discussion that could lead to accepting same-sex marriage. 

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