Catholic priest’s public blessings for same-sex couples praised

same-sex blessing

A South Korean Catholic priest’s public blessings for same-sex couple are making the world of difference to the way couples see themselves.

Father Seungbok Lee’s actions have won applause from individuals and groups supporting same-sex couples’ rights.

Two sets of female same-sex couples – Yeon Yeon and Yoon Hae, and Chris and Ari – are full of praise for Lee and the Catholic Church for their public blessing.

Other same-sex couples should feel encouraged to do the same Yeon says.

In line with the Vatican’s guidelines, the blessing took place after Mass had been celebrated.

The Catholic group Arcus (Latin for “rainbow”) arranged the Mass. The group, with the Archdiocese of Seoul’s backing, was founded last May to offer support to LGBTQ people.

They were at the Mass to support the couple – as well as nuns and six priests from various parishes.

Being recognised

Both couples say the blessing has helped them feel like part of the Catholic community.

Chris and Ari, who had married in Canada in 2013, say “the fact that the two of us were blessed together is meaningful in itself.

“Receiving the blessing is a big step forward, but I feel that there are still mountains to overcome.

“I think it will take more time for social changes such as legalising same-sex marriage” Chris adds.

Yeon feels much the same way, saying “Tears continued to flow as I listened to the prayer during the blessing. I felt like my existence was being acknowledged for the first time.

“As a sexual minority couple, I felt like I was not even recognised for myself.”

She also hopes the Church will formally approve same-sex marriages in the future.

Authority to bless same-sex and unmarried couples

The same-sex blessings followed the guidelines set out in a new document, Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust).

The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith published Fiducia – which Pope Francis formally authorised – on 18 December last year.

The document clears the way for Catholic priests to bless a same-sex or other unmarried couple.

However, it also says same-sex couple blessings cannot be formal liturgical blessings. Nor may they give the impression that the Church is blessing these unions as if they were a marriage.

Fiducia has not changed the Church’s accepted definition of marriage, which must be between a man and a woman.

Rather, the document provides for only an informal and spontaneous blessing between same-sex or unmarried couples. This blessing is neither a sacrament nor a rite of the Catholic church, Fiducia says.


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