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Vatican approves blessings for same-sex couples

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Pope Francis has greenlighted blessings for same-sex couples, marking a significant shift in the Catholic Church’s approach.

In a historic move, the Vatican, led by Pope Francis, has approved the possibility of blessings for same-sex couples, challenging traditional views within the Catholic Church.

The approval, outlined in a document titled “Fiducia Supplicans — On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” signals a departure from the Church’s previous stance while maintaining its position on marriage as a union between a man and a woman for procreation.

The document, published by the Vatican’s faith department, emphasizes the Church’s willingness to offer blessings to couples in irregular situations, including unmarried couples and divorcees. However, it explicitly states that these blessings must not be associated with civil unions or weddings, reinforcing the Church’s unwavering position on the definition of marriage.

While the declaration does not alter the Catholic Church’s stand on same-sex marriages or unions, it represents a landmark step toward acknowledging and embracing the LGBTQ community within the Church.

The document recognizes the need for the Church to extend its closeness to individuals seeking God’s help through a simple blessing, regardless of their circumstances.

Notably, this development follows a global meeting on the Church’s future, which concluded six weeks ago. During the meeting, social issues, including the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals and the acceptance of divorced and remarried people, were discussed.

The decision to bless same-sex couples did not appear in the final text, but the newly published declaration is seen as a broadening and enrichment of the Vatican’s stance on blessings.

The head of the Vatican’s faith department, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, emphasized that the document aligns with Pope Francis’s pastoral vision. The Argentine pontiff has consistently aimed to make the Church more welcoming to those traditionally considered “sinners,” echoing his earlier sentiment that judgment should not be passed on individuals sincerely seeking the Lord.

While conservative Catholics, particularly in the United States, oppose the blessing of same-sex couples, others view this decision as a significant step forward in the Church’s ministry to LGBTQ people.

James Martin, a prominent US Jesuit priest and LGBTQ advocate, characterized the document as a “major step forward” and a departure from the Vatican’s 2021 assertion that the Church lacked the authority to bless same-sex unions.

To prevent confusion or scandal, the document specifies that blessings for same-sex couples should not be performed with elements associated with weddings.

Instead, they may find their place in other contexts, such as visits to shrines, meetings with priests, group prayers, or pilgrimages.

This nuanced approach reflects the Vatican’s attempt to navigate a delicate balance between tradition and evolving pastoral needs in an ever-changing world.

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