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Same-sex couple blessings in the Catholic Church

Pope Francis’s recent openness to priests offering blessings to same-sex couples has generated attention. While Catholic Church doctrine defines marriage as between one man and one woman, the Pope’s comments emphasize the importance of pastoral charity and discernment when considering requests for blessings from same-sex couples.

This shift may lead to more compassionate responses to such requests. Despite this, it is unlikely to trigger a surge in same-sex blessings, and the church’s overall reputation regarding LGBTQ+ issues may not change significantly. Nonetheless, the Pope’s stance acknowledges the pastoral needs of all Catholics, including those in same-sex relationships who seek blessings.

Blessings hold significance in the Catholic faith, helping believers grow in their faith and affirming God’s love in their lives. For same-sex Catholic couples, blessings provide affirmation of their love and a sense of holiness, despite the church’s official stance.

America Magazine reports:

Catholics and their pets will gather on church lawns throughout the country this month to participate in what has become an annual rite of fall, seeking blessings from priests to commemorate St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day was Oct. 4.

While the photos from these events usually prompt a bit of news coverage, including here at America, it is Pope Francis’ comments on other potential blessings that have generated the most analysis and commentary as of late.

Last Monday, the Vatican released a text in which Francis, who is presiding over a global gathering of Catholic leaders discerning the church’s future, wrote that he is open to the possibility that priests might someday offer blessings to same-sex couples.

When Catholic same-sex couples seek a blessing from a priest, it often flows from a deep faith in God. 

The document, a response to a series of questions from a group of five cardinals challenging the pope to clarify church teaching on a range of issues including homosexuality, is clear that the church’s definition of marriage remains unalterably the union of one man and one woman. But Francis said that upholding Catholic teaching on marriage does not mean church leaders “become judges who only deny, reject, exclude.”

Rather than “lose pastoral charity, which must be part of all our decisions and attitudes,” priests and other church ministers can discern a request for a blessing, wrote Francis.

“When you ask for a blessing you are expressing a request for help from God, a prayer to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us live better,” the pope wrote. He added that if priests were to offer such blessings, they would likely remain an unofficial practice, as “pastoral prudence in certain circumstances need not be transformed into a norm.”…

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