Priest who blessed engagement ceremony encouraged to ‘continue gay outreach’

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Church leaders have asked Father Mark Montebello to remain within Church teaching.

After pictures appeared on Facebook showing Fr Montebello attenting the engagement ceremony for a gay couple, and blessing the rings, he was called to a meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna and other local senior Catholics.

Dominican friar Fr Montebello has reportedly been reminded that the Church does not allow priests to bless any celebration of same-sex relationships, but he has been encouraged to continue “outreach” work.

The Times of Malta reports a spokesperson for the Curia – the local group of Catholic leaders said: “During the cordial meeting, the Archbishop encouraged Fr Mark to continue his outreach to gay people, and asked that he continue to follow Church practice and discipline in his ministry, especially in the celebration of sacred rites and Church rituals.

“In terms of Church practice and discipline, the ritual blessing of engagement and wedding rings, and of engagement promises and marriage consent, is only allowed for engagements and marriages between a man and a woman.”

They also report that Fr Montebello thanked the Curia for their support and agreed to follow their instructions.

Malta recently unveiled some of the most progressive gender identity laws in the world.