The Vatican – Roman Catholic clergy may not bless same-sex couples, the Vatican said on March 15. The Vatican’s doctrinal office issued a document, said to be personally approved by Pope Francis, saying it is impermissible for clergy to pronounce blessings on any relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Such blessings are wrong, the Vatican said, because they would seem “to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God,” adding that God “does not and cannot bless sin.”

The document reaffirms traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, its official handbook of dogma, states that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” the inclination to act on them is “objectively disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.” However, the catechism also states that LGBTQ people “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” The document acknowledged “the presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated,” but said such elements “cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”

The Vatican’s reaffirmation of traditional teaching is likely to disappoint progressive Catholics hoping for further change and cheer conservatives. “It is not surprising but still disappointing,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBT Catholics. “This decision, though, is an impotent one, because it will not stop the Catholic people in the pews, nor many Catholic leaders, who are eager for such blessings to happen.” The Vatican document is also a slap at the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which has called for the Church to bless – but not marry – same-sex couples. Priests in Germany have blessed same-sex couples for years, as have Catholic clergy in some other parts of Northern Europe. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at

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