Same-sex couples can be blessed, Vatican says – but there’s a catch

Same-sex couples can be blessed by Roman Catholic priests as long as the blessings are not part of regular church rituals or resemble a marriage rite, the Pope has ruled.

The landmark ruling approved by Pope Francis will see that same-sex couples and those in “irregular situations” can be blessed by church officials, although such blessings does not legitimise these relationships in the church’s view.

A declaration from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, entitled ‘On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings‘, states priests “should not prevent or prohibit the church’s closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God’s help through a simple blessing”.

“In a brief prayer preceding this spontaneous blessing, the ordained minister could ask that the individuals have peace, health, a spirit of patience, dialogue, and mutual assistance—but also God’s light and strength to be able to fulfill his will completely,” it goes on to state.

It adds priests should decide on the blessings by a case-by-case basis and to “avoid any form of confusion or scandal” the blessings “should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them”.

“Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding. The same applies when the blessing is requested by a same-sex couple,” the Vatican declaration adds.

Pope Francis, who has been the head of the Catholic church since 2013, has sought to make the religion more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, without altering the moral doctrine on same-sex activity.

Back in September, the pontiff published a response to five cardinals who asked him about his intentions to bless same-sex unions.

The Pope responded that the church still recognises marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but same-sex unions should have the opportunity to be blessed.

In November, he met with a group of trans women for lunch, which followed on from him saying that trans people may be baptised and act as godparents or witnesses to marriage just like any other adult.