The Vatican said on Monday that priests cannot bless same-sex unions and that such blessings are not valid, in a ruling that greatly disappointed gay Catholics who had hoped their Church was becoming more welcoming under Pope Francis.
In some countries, such as the United States and Germany, parishes and ministers have begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, and there have been calls for bishops to de facto institutionalise these.
But conservatives in the 1.3 billion-member Church have expressed alarm over these practices, particularly those in Germany where at least two bishops, including Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, one of the pope’s top advisers, have shown support for some kind of “pastoral” blessing.
In response to formal questions from a number of dioceses on whether the practice was allowed, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued the ruling: “Negative”.
Pope Francis approved the response, the CDF said, adding that it was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite” of the sacrament of marriage and the blessing associated with it.