A significant new teaching has now been issued by the Vatican, permitting Roman Catholic clerics to bestow blessings upon same-sex couples, provided that such blessings do not occur within the context of regular Church rituals or liturgies, civil unions, or weddings.
On Monday, Pope Francis endorsed a document from the doctrinal office of the Vatican which stated that such blessings would not legitimize unusual circumstances, but rather serve as an indication that God embraces everyone.
It specified that clerics should make decisions individually.
The document provides further elaboration on an October publication that detailed a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals.
Francis indicated in that preliminary response that such blessings might be bestowed under certain conditions, provided that the participants did not conflate the ceremony with the sacrament of matrimony.
This justification is reiterated and expanded upon in the new document, which reaffirms that matrimony is a sacrament that lasts a lifetime between a man and a woman.
It emphasizes that blessings should not be bestowed concurrently with a civil union, through predetermined rituals, or even employing wedding-appropriate attire and gestures.
However, it explicitly states that such petitions for blessings should not be denied.
Insisting that individuals seeking a transcendent relationship with God and desiring his love and mercy should not be required to undergo “an exhaustive moral analysis” as a prerequisite for receiving it, it provides a comprehensive definition of the word “blessing” as it appears in Scripture.