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Pope Francis authorizes blessings for gay marriage

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Pope Francis has formally approved the blessing of same-sex couples by Roman Catholic priests, marking a significant departure from traditional Vatican doctrine.

The approval allows priests to conduct blessings for same-sex couples, as long as they are not part of regular Church rituals or liturgies and do not coincide with civil union ceremonies.

The new ruling builds upon the pope’s initial openness to blessing same-sex couples in October and represents a departure from a 2021 Vatican doctrine office decision that prohibited any blessings, stating that God “cannot bless sin.”

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The shift in approach has been attributed to Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, an Argentinian prelate and ally of Pope Francis, who took over the doctrine department in July 2023.

According to the declaration authored by Cardinal Fernandez and another official, when people seek a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be a precondition, emphasizing the grace of God working in the lives of those who humbly acknowledge themselves as sinners.

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The ruling opens “the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex,” leaving decisions to the “prudent and fatherly discernment of ordained ministers.”

James Martin, a Jesuit priest ministering to gay Catholics, described the move as a “major step forward” that recognizes the deep desire for God’s presence in the relationships of many Catholic same-sex couples.

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Pope Francis has been gradually shifting the Church’s stance on LGBTQ issues since 2013 when he remarked, “Who am I to judge?” in response to a question about gay clergy.

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