Vatican same-sex blessing ban draws support and criticism

same-sex blessing ban

Three cardinals have defended the Vatican Church same-sex blessing ban, while a growing number of bishops publicly denounced the responsum.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on March 15 published a document reiterating the Vatican’s longstanding position that it is “illicit” for Catholic priests to bless same-sex unions.

God “does not and cannot bless sin”, the responsum said.

There is some support to the responsum from within the church hierarchy.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s laity office, concurred with the pronouncement that a “blessing” is a sacramental action. It relates to the marriage sacrament, which the church teaches can only be celebrated between a man and a woman.

Farrell said civil unions are not “marriages” as the Catholic Church understands the term. He stressed: “I do want to insist that nobody be excluded from the pastoral care and love of the church.”

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and head of the Vatican’s development office, Cardinal Peter Turkson, pointed to Francis’ pastoral outreach to gay men and lesbians. But they repeated the church’s position.

“The church has a very clear teaching about marriage that needs to be proclaimed,” O’Malley said during an online panel discussion organized by Georgetown University.

However, bishops from several different countries immediately criticised the CDF intervention calling it “unacceptable”, hurtful and clumsy.

“I feel ashamed for my church. I mainly feel intellectual and moral incomprehension,” said Bishop Johan Bonny, 65, of Antwerp (Belgium).

“Controlling who can or cannot receive God’s blessing is inadequate and wrong,” said Franz Kreissl, director of pastoral services for the Diocese of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg said he was “unhappy” with the new note published by the Vatican.

In the USA, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago underlined that the CDF note offers “nothing new on the Church’s teaching”.

“This should prompt us in the Church to redouble our efforts. We need to be creative and resilient in finding ways to welcome and encourage all LGBTQ people in our family of faith,” the 72-year-old cardinal emphasized.

In France, the publication of the CDF text has aroused a sense of anger in LGBTQ+ Christian movements and associations.

“What is disappointing is that we had the feeling that some things were moving on the ground, especially in dialogue with the dioceses,” lamented Cyrille de Compiègne, spokesperson for the Association David & Jonathan.


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