Yesterday, Pope Francis suggested that he is open to the idea of blessing same-sex unions. If Catholic priests were to bless same-sex unions, it would reverse the official Vatican position that it does not bless gay couples. (In 2021, The Vatican said that “God cannot bless sin” and therefore it could not support same-sex unions.) Pope Francis is challenging that stance by suggesting, in an official letter, “We cannot be judges who only deny, reject, and exclude.”
But, just like when the Pope said “gays are welcome,” there’s a catch.
He said that the same-sex unions to be blessed would be decided on a case-by-case basis and would not be on the same level as heterosexual weddings.
His remarks about same-sex unions were published in a letter on Monday by Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Five conservative cardinals from Asia, Europe, Africa, the United States and Latin America sent Francis a list of questions, known as “dubia,” and the letter answered the questions.
The cardinals challenged Francis to reinforce traditional Catholic stance on same-sex marriage but in response, Francis said there may be “forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons” that could be granted on a case-by-case basis. He requested that the clergy show “pastoral charity,” including “kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement.”
This letter does not make any official change to the Vatican’s policies or stance, but can be seen as a symbol of hope and change. In order to make an official change, the Pope would have to issue a formal decree, such as a papal document known as a motu proprio, that would indicate a more set-in-stone stance of support of same-sex unions by the church.
In his 10 years of Popehood, Francis has supported the LGBTQ+ community while also trying to not make waves with more devout crowds. In 2013, he said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” In 2020, he told parents of LGBTQ+ children to support them “because they are children of God.”
Taking a more progressive stance on the LGBTQ+ community, Pope Francis clarified that he does not believe homosexuality should be a crime, but he did state that “it is a sin,” as with all sexual acts outside of marriage.