"We cannot be judges": Pope admits Catholic Church can bless same-sex couples

Lilia RagutskaNews
Pope Francis clarifies blessing for same-sex couples

Pope Francis has not ruled out the possibility that the Catholic Church may bless same-sex couples. In his opinion, requests for blessing should be treated with "pastoral charity" and church officials cannot be "judges" who can only "deny, reject and exclude."

At the same time, the Vatican continues to consider same-sex relationships "objectively sinful" and does not recognize marriages between members of the same sex. The details are reported by the BBC.

According to the publication, before the week-long global gathering to discuss the future of the Church, the Pope received a request from a group of cardinals who asked to dot the i's and cross the t's on the issue of church blessing for same-sex couples. It is a prayer or request to God for a favorable attitude toward a person or people that is said by priests.

The question arose after the bishops of a number of Western European countries, including Belgium and Germany, began to allow priests to bless same-sex couples.

In his response, Pope Francis emphasized that any request for a blessing should be treated with "pastoral charity."

"We cannot be judges who only deny, reject and exclude," he said.

However, the Pope added, the Church still considers relations between members of the same sex "objectively sinful" and does not recognize marriages between them.

According to the Pontiff, the Church understands marriage as "an exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman" and should avoid "any rites or ceremonies that may contradict this conviction." However, he added, asking for a blessing is "an expression of a plea to God for help, a request to live a better life."

"Pastoral discernment must adequately distinguish whether there are forms of blessing, requests by one or more persons, that do not convey a false view of marriage," the Pope said.

He also recommended that each request for a blessing be considered separately, while, according to Francis, "decisions that may be part of pastoral discretion in certain circumstances should not necessarily become the norm."

"Canon law should not and cannot cover everything," the Pope emphasized.

The pontiff also added that the Church should always approach its relations with people with "kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement."

In 2021, a similar request was already made to the leadership of the Catholic Church. At that time, the Vatican's doctrinal department decided not to allow this practice.

Meanwhile, in February 2023, the highest clergy of the Anglican Church supported the proposal to allow prayers of blessing for same-sex couples.

"This move will mean that a same-sex couple will be able to go to the Anglican Church after the official wedding ceremony for services, including prayers of dedication, thanksgiving, and God's blessing," the BBC writes.

In March this year, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine registered a bill on civil partnerships for same-sex and different-sex couples. If passed, this bill, authored by MP Inna Sovsun of the Voice party, will create an institution of legal relations between same-sex partners and greatly simplify the procedure for their registration.

According to Sovsun, her proposed bill will also help protect the rights of military personnel belonging to the LGBT community.

Not everyone appreciated Sovsun's initiative. For example, in Volyn, deputies opposed civil partnerships for same-sex and different-sex couples. In their opinion, such legalization of relationships is "the destruction of national values." And the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church called the bill "a bill of lawlessness, not law".

From March 14 to the present day, according to the website of the Verkhovna Rada, the draft law has been "under consideration" in one of the parliamentary committees.

Meanwhile, a petition calling on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to publicly support the creation of the civil partnership institute and facilitate the adoption of the draft law collected the required number of signatures in April.

The author of the petition noted that "the adoption of this draft law will solve the problem of the legal status, rights and obligations of partners, the legal regime of their property, inheritance, social protection, and rights in the event of the death or disappearance of one of them."

In late May, Zelenskyy responded to the petition. He emphasized that Ukraine is fully committed to three fundamental European values: democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. However, the president added, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, marriage is based on the free consent of a woman and a man (Article 51), and in a state of martial law or emergency, the Constitution cannot be changed (Article 157).

Meanwhile, in early June, the ECHR ordered Ukraine to legally recognize same-sex couples. This was based on several complaints filed by a Ukrainian same-sex couple back in 2014, who demanded official state recognition and registration of their relationship.

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