Chicago Catholic priest says sorry for same-sex blessing

same-sex blessing

A same-sex blessing has resulted in a Chicago Catholic priest apologising for violating Church guidelines.

Filmed and then posted on social media, the way he carried out the same-sex blessing was a “very poor decision” Father Joseph Williams says.

In the apology – issued by the Vincentians’ Western Province – Williams says he is “deeply sorry for any confusion and/or anger that this has caused, particularly for the People of God.

“The shape that the blessing took as portrayed in the video came about due to my attempt to provide for them a meaningful moment of God’s grace.

“I wanted to do it well. A week or so after the fact, I viewed the video. I immediately realised that I had made a very poor decision in the words and visuals captured on the video.”

Williams says he told the couple when they approached him that he could provide only a blessing, not a wedding.

However he “regrets the language of the blessing and the use of vestments and the church itself, which he now recognises were a violation of the norms approved by the Church”.

The blessing

In April, Williams blessed a same-sex union before the altar at St Vincent de Paul Church where he is the pastor.

One of the newly-blessed partners then posted a brief video and photographs of the blessing on her Instagram account.

She described the same-sex blessing as “a blessing of our marriage”.

The video pictured the couple dressed in formal attire, standing with Williams in the sanctuary.

Williams asks “Do you freely recommit yourselves to love each other as holy spouses and to live in peace and harmony together forever?”

“We do, I do,” they reply.

Williams then asks God to “increase and consecrate the love”.

He continues, saying “the rings they have exchanged are the sign of their fidelity and commitment. May they continue to prosper in your grace and blessing. We ask this through Christ our Lord”.

New Church guidelines

Last December’s Vatican declaration “Fiducia Supplicans” (“Supplicating Trust”) allows pastoral, non-liturgical blessings of couples in irregular unions.

They can be same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples.

However such blessings “precisely to avoid any form of confusion or scandal … should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union and not even in connection with them” Fiducia says.

“Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures or words that are proper to a wedding.”



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