Vatican Declares That Granting Blessings to Same-Sex Spouses Is Not Heretical

( – In December, Pope Francis gave his formal approval—a declaration—for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples. The move sparked a lot of backlash because many saw it as a strong shift from the Church’s stance on gay marriage. However, Pope Francis made it clear that the blessings were not to be confused with the marriage ritual. The Vatican recently defended the move.

On Thursday, January 4, the Holy See’s office to safeguard doctrinal orthodoxy released a five-page statement on the matter. In short, the Vatican said it understands that some bishops might need additional time for “pastoral reflection,” but that there was nothing “heretical, contrary to the Tradition of the Church, or blasphemous” about the declaration Francis issued.

The Catholic Church has long rejected same-sex marriage, and that isn’t changing, but Pope Francis has been a staunch supporter of welcoming the LGBTQ community into the folds. He maintains that “being homosexual is not a crime,” a statement he made in an interview with The Associated Press in January 2023. His approach has continued to spark resistance, particularly among conservative and traditionalist Catholic leaders.

Some bishops have said they will not implement the policy, which elicited a warning from the Vatican that acknowledged there are some areas where issuing the blessing “would be imprudent,” yet it urged bishop conferences not to deter from the pope’s declaration. It further stated that issuing the blessings is “not an endorsement of the life led,” nor is it an “absolution.” Rather, it’s a move to show the community that it is welcome and that God loves all of his children.

In some countries, however, homosexuality can land people in jail or worse. There are 11 countries where engaging in same-sex relationships can result in the death penalty. Bishops in Zambia and Malawi have declared they will not implement or issue the blessings.

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