Dec 18, 2023 - World

Pope Francis says priests can bless same-sex couples

Pope Francis speaking in Vatican City, Vatican, on Dec. 8.

Pope Francis speaking in Vatican City, Vatican, on Dec. 8. Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples under certain circumstances, the Vatican announced Monday.

Why it matters: The rule change affirms and expands on a progressive shift to Roman Catholic Church doctrine around blessings proposed by Francis in a letter he sent two conservative cardinals earlier this year.

  • The change, announced in a document released by the Vatican, did not alter the church's doctrine around same-sex marriage. The blessings aren't an approval of same-sex marriages or unions.
  • The document strictly outlines the blessing of couples in "irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church's perennial teaching on marriage."
  • It stresses that blessings cannot be given at the same time as a civil union and cannot resemble weddings in any way.

Details: The document adds that people who request blessings should not be subjected to "an exhaustive moral analysis" before receiving it because "those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection."

  • "Indeed, the grace of God works in the lives of those who do not claim to be righteous but who acknowledge themselves humbly as sinners, like everyone else," the document states.

The big picture: The approved doctrine is Francis' latest attempt to make the church more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people while at the same time upholding its historical views on the sacrament of marriage.

Go deeper: The world's departure from organized religion

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