LGBTQ+ groups praise Pope’s same-sex unions comments, as gay sex ‘sin’ stance remains unclear

Pope Francis smiles while giving a thumbs up

LGBTQ+ groups have praised Pope Francis for saying that same-sex couples could have their unions blessed, but the Catholic Church is yet to respond on whether it still considers such relationships a “grave sin against God’s law.” 

Responding to five cardinals who requested his clarification on the blessing of same-sex unions in a “dubia” (doubts) – formal questions brought before the

When asked by five cardinals about the blessing of same-sex unions, Pope Francis said same-sex unions should have the opportunity to be blessed. 

“When you ask for a blessing, you are expressing a request for help from God, a prayer to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us live better,” he wrote in reply.

But in another question linked to blessing unions, the cardinals looked for an answer to the question: do homosexual acts and “every sexual act outside of marriage” still “constitute an objectively grave sin against God’s law”.

The pope is yet to give a reply and at the time of writing this article, the Catholic Church Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is also yet to respond.

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LGBT Humanists co-ordinator Nick Baldwin said the question about homosexuality being “an objectively grave sin against God’s law” requires an answer.

“As Humanists, we support same-sex marriage and equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people,” he said. “Same-sex blessings fall short of this. 

“We call on the pope, the Catholic Church and all religious institutions to treat same-sex relationships with equal respect.”

‘We hope bishops around the world will follow Pope Francis’

Ruby Almeida, the media co-ordinator for The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, told PinkNews the organisation was pleased to hear the pope’s positive affirmation for same-sex relationships. 

“Both the network’s co-chairpersons, Chris Vella and Marianne Duddy-Burke, are married to same-sex partners and are in long-term relationships that have been blessed”, adding that the couples “have the same hopes and desires to lead authentic lives with their spouses.”

“We hope bishops around the world will follow Pope Francis’ call to recognise and value such relationships with a Church blessing.”  

The chief executive of LGBTQ+ Christian charity, OneBodyOneFaith, Luke Dowding, told PinkNews: “It is deeply moving to see how the global Church continues to shift towards the affirmation of LGBT+ people.

“Pope Francis is demonstrating that it is essential for LGBTQ+ people to thrive, not just survive, in all aspects of their lives – something that OneBodyOneFaith champions daily. 

“We know that our Roman Catholic members and partners will be heartily encouraged by this recent statement from His Holiness, and we delight with them, while continuing our work to ensure that LGBTQ+ people no longer face exclusion from their faith.”

‘Love will always trump’

Jayne Ozanne, the director of the Ozanne Foundation, which works with religious organisations globally to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender, told PinkNews that Pope Francis’s words align with his pro-LGBTQ+ views. 

In April, the pope said he believes all people – including the LGBTQ+ community – are “children of God.”

Ozanne, who is also a conversion therapy survivor and campaigner, said: “It’s rather ironic that the pope has got to this point ahead of many in the Church of England, particularly those who are doing all they can to block progress.

“I agree with the pope that God’s love will always trump a legalistic approach to Christianity.” 

The pontiff’s new stance contradicts a statement he made in March, in which he said that same-sex unions couldn’t be blessed because the Church could “not bless sin.” 

In February, the General Synod – the Church of England’s decision-making body – announced it would continue to prevent priests ordaining same-sex marriages, but blessings would be offered instead.

In July, a four-hour debate heard the views of members on proposals to enable same-sex couples to go to church and have a prayer service after a civil marriage or civil partnership. 

PinkNews has contacted the Catholic Church Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for comment.