Malta: Catholic priest blesses rings at gay engagement ceremony

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Pro-gay marriage priest Father Mark Montebello has gone against Church teachings.

Pictures on Facebook show Fr Montebello appearing at the engagement ceremony for a gay couple, and blessing the rings. Catholic doctrine does not allow for priests to officiate at ceremonies celebrating gay relationships.

Fr Montebello has been outspoken about his pro-gay marriage stance in the past, often leading to official reprimands by the Church.

According to The Malta Independant, Fr Montebello previously said, when asked if he would perform a blessing: “I would bless them. Of course I can’t celebrate a gay marriage as that is against Church rules, but I would give them a blessing.

“There needs to be a change in vision. The same arguments against gays were used against women in the past.”

Malta has made great advances in LGBT equality in recent years. Civil partnerships have been allowed since last year, and this month Malta became the first country to outlaw unnecessary surgery for intersex infants, as well as introducing some of the most progressive gender recognition laws in the world.

The Maltese Prime Minsiter’s special envoy to the EU, Cyrus Engerer, spoke out in support of Fr Montebello, calling his actions a “good bold move.”

Fr Montebello has been called to a meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna to discuss the blessing.