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Pope Francis allows blessing of same-sex couples in Roman Catholic Church

The new official document “broadens its classical understanding” to “include” new kinds of couples while maintaining “the perennial teaching on marriage”.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus VATICAN CITY 19 DE DICIEMBRE DE 2023 13:22 h
Photo: [link]Shalone Cason[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

The Vatican is now officially allowing the Roman Catholic Church around the world to bless “irregular” couples, such as those formed by people of the same sex, although it has clarified that they cannot be considered as marriages.

Pope Francis has approved this doctrinal move in the declaration Fiducia Suplicans, published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department of the Roman Curia dedicated to defining and protecting Vatican doctrine.


“A real development”

The decision represents a substantial change in the theological and doctrinal line of the Roman Church. According to the cardinal who drafted the official document, Víctor Manuel Fernández, the changes are “based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis”.

The Roman Catholic leadership says the purpose is a “broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings”, in a change that is presented as “a real development with respect to what has been said so far about blessings”.

The Fiducia Suplicans also states that is it “blessing irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage”.

This justification is similar to that recently given by the Church of England (Anglican Communion), which will include gay couples through prayers of blessing, while not defining then as “marriage”.

Critics have said these moves are steps towards a full redefinition of marriage in the future in the doctrine of these two major Christian Churches.


An “inclusion” of the Church that should not create “scandal”

The document of the Vatican, published on 18 December, points to the words of Pope Francis, who urged the Roman Church not to “lose pastoral charity, which should permeate all our decisions and attitudes” and to avoid being “judges who only deny, reject, and exclude”.

After enumerating several places in the Bible where God’s blessings are made visible, the document then goes on to say that “in his mystery of love, through Christ, God communicates to his Church the power to bless”, and this “blessing is transformed into inclusion, solidarity, and peacemaking. It is a positive message of comfort, care, and encouragement”.

Towards the end, the official document asks such blessings for unions that are not marriages to be given in “contexts” other than in connection to weddings, “to avoid confusion or scandal”. A blessing of a “irregular” union should neither be “performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding”.


Evangelical Christians, against the tide

The steps towards the inclusion of same-sex unions in the Roman Catholic Church are part of a wider debate.

While the Church of England, a world reference in the Anglican Communion, has also just announced similar steps in this direction, national Protestant churches in many European countries have for some time now introduced demands from LGTBQI groups into their practices.

In contrast, evangelical denominations not tied to national churches (such as Pentecostals, Baptists, Brethren, free evangelicals) in both Europe and the rest of the world have held to a historic Christian position that teaches that any union outside a marriage between a man and a woman is not God's design.


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