Pope Francis has formally approved allowing priests to bless gay and other same-sex couples.
This is according to a document from the Vatican’s doctrine office, released Monday, December 18, 2023.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church stated that, in some cases, priests ought to be able to bless same-sex and “irregular” couples.
However, the Vatican emphasised that blessings should not be incorporated into routine Church ceremonies or associated with civil unions or weddings.
It added that it continues to view marriage as between a man and a woman.
Although the document itself states that priests must make decisions on a case-by-case basis, the Vatican said it should be a sign that “God welcomes all.”
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Church, while introducing the text, made it clear that the revised position does not confer official recognition to same-sex couples within the Catholic Church.
The declaration signifies a shift in tone, albeit without altering its stance. The Pope had in 2021 declared that priests are prohibited from bestowing blessings upon same-sex marriages, citing the belief that God cannot “bless sin”.
Within the Catholic Church, a blessing consists of a prayer or entreaty, typically recited by a minister, requesting that God provide favour to the individual or individuals receiving the blessing.
In October, Pope Francis hinted that he might be willing to see same-sex couples blessed by the Church.
According to the BBC, while the position of Church officials remained unclear, bishops in several countries had previously permitted priests to bless same-sex marriages.