For the first time, Pope Francis has said he supports blessing same-sex civil unions, arguing that gay couples need legal rights.
According to The Times:
The Pope has given cautious backing to the blessing of gay unions for the first time in a further step away from the Catholic Church’s traditional intolerance of homosexuality.
Francis, who famously said “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexuals in 2013, gave his verdict on gay unions in response to doctrinal questions from five hardline cardinals.
The Catholic Church officially considers homosexual sex as “intrinsically disordered” and the Pope has long opposed gay marriage, claiming wedlock can only happen between a man and woman.
He has supported same-sex civil unions, however, arguing that gay couples need legal rights, and told a gay man in 2018 that “God made you that way and loves you as you are”.
Despite his stance, the Vatican’s doctrinal department said in 2021 that the church could not bless gay unions because “God cannot bless sin”.
This could be about to change after the Pope’s response, in which he said blessings may be possible if they weren’t equated with marriage. In a letter, published yesterday, he said: “We cannot be judges who only deny, push back, exclude.”
He said: “Therefore, pastoral prudence must adequately discern if there are forms of benediction, requested by one or more persons, that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage.”
Francis argued: “Because when a benediction is asked for, it is expressing a request for help from God, a plea to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us to live better.”
He added that blessing gay unions should not become an official, transcribed rule but should be undertaken on a case-by-case basis.
“This is a big deal, not imaginable a few years ago and a signal to bishops who think nothing has changed since Pope John Paul II,” Massimo Faggioli, a theologian at Villanova University in the US, said.