In a significant development for the LGBTQ community within the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has granted permission for priests to bless same-sex couples. This move, outlined in a document approved by the Pope on Monday, represents a departure from the Church’s previous stance. The Vatican clarified that such blessings should occur under specific circumstances but should not be incorporated into regular Church rituals or linked to civil unions or weddings. Despite this shift, the Vatican reaffirmed its traditional view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Church, introduced the document, emphasizing its adherence to the Church’s traditional doctrine on marriage. However, he noted that the new guidelines align with Pope Francis’s pastoral vision, aiming to broaden the Church’s appeal. The document encourages priests to make case-by-case decisions on blessing relationships that are still considered sinful, signaling a more inclusive approach.

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While the Vatican asserted that the blessing should not be contingent on “prior moral perfection” of the individuals involved, it maintained that this change does not validate the status of same-sex couples within the Catholic Church. A blessing, in the context of the Catholic Church, is a prayer or plea delivered by a minister, seeking God’s favor for the individuals being blessed.

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This move signifies a softened tone from the Catholic Church, reflecting a shift in pastoral approach without altering its fundamental position. In 2021, Pope Francis had stated that priests could not bless same-sex marriages, citing an inability to “bless sin.” The latest development is in line with the Pope’s earlier suggestion in October, indicating an openness to the idea of the Church blessing same-sex couples. While some bishops in specific countries had previously allowed such blessings, the overall stance of Church authorities remained unclear until this recent clarification from the Vatican.