Catholic Church says it will not bless same-sex unions
MASERU – The Vatican said this week that the Catholic Church will not bless same-sex unions, in an aggressive statement approved by Pope Francis.
This reminder is viewed by many liberal religious and secular commentators as a threat that widens the rift between the church and much of the LGBTQ community.
The decision will alarm those who pinned their hopes of a more open and progressive Catholic leadership on the reformist Pope.
Last year, it seemed that Pope Francis had advocated for civil union laws for same-sex couples when he gave an interview for an international documentary.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” the Pope said, adding that “…what we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”
The Vatican quickly paddled back from those remarks, saying they had been taken out of context and did not indicate a change in doctrine.
On the home front, speaking to Tampose Mothopeng of the People’s Matrix Association the LGBTQ activist said it is very sad that the Catholic Church maintains the stand disapprove of same sex marriages yet people have rights to their choice of family.
“They only go with the human rights that go with their belief and yet they neglect the ones that contradict their believes, we all interpret the bible in our own ways from different churches. If this is what they are saying then it says we still have a huge problem worldwide,” Tampose said.
But, blessing same-sex unions, the Vatican says, would send a sign that the Catholic Church approves and encourages “a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a document which contains dogmas and teachings of the Church, names “homosexual acts” as “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law,” and names “homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered.”
While the Catholic Church does not consider “homosexual orientation” sinful in and of itself, it does have a very negative attitude toward it.
The Church says although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
The Catechism further states that “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.”
The doctrine also specifies that, “such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
Explaining their decision in a lengthy note on Monday this week, the Holy See referred to homosexuality as a “choice”, described it as sinful and said it “cannot be recognized as objectively ordered” to God’s plans.
The stance is certain to disappoint millions of gay and lesbian Catholics around the world.
“The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” the Vatican’s top doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote in the statement.
God “does not and cannot bless sin,” the statement added.
Pope Francis, who has frequently been praised for his welcoming tone towards LGBTQ people both within and outside the Church, approved the statement.
The decision is a setback for Catholics who had hoped the institution would modernize its approach to homosexuality. Dozens of countries, include many in western Europe, have legalized same-sex marriages, and the Church”s reticence to embrace LGBTQ people has long held the potential to alienate it from younger followers.
“It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” the statement said.
The statement was issued as a “response” to questions from pastors and the faithful on the question. In a commentary provided with the Monday statement, the Vatican insisted that “the negative judgment on the blessing of unions of persons of the same sex does not imply a judgment on persons.”
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world, with approximately 1.2 billion members across the globe. The Church has its origins in the earliest days of Christianity and traces its leadership, in the person of the Pope, to St Peter, identified by Jesus as “the rock” on which the Church was built.
The actual experience of LGBTQ parishioners can vary widely across dioceses and parishes in all countries of the world.
The Catholic Church does not celebrate or recognize same-sex marriages, yet the Catholic laity have been increasingly vocal in their support.