The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has granted the permission for Catholic priests to bless same-gender couples, marking a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ individuals within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Pope’s decision allows priests to offer blessings for same-sex marriages and unions considered irregular under specific circumstances.
While emphasizing that these blessings should not be integrated into regular Church rituals or extend to civil unions, the Vatican reiterated its stance that marriage is between a man and a woman.
The official document announcing this change, approved by Pope Francis on Monday, reflects a nuanced approach.
The pontiff’s progressive stance has drawn attention, especially as he becomes the first pope to openly endorse LGBTQ+ rights.
His remarks challenging anti-LGBTQ+ laws precede his planned trip to Africa, where such laws are prevalent.
Earlier in January, he became the first Pope to express solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community openly.
In his latest message, Francis emphasised that all individuals are children of God, deserving of love and dignity, and urged bishops to embrace a process of conversion towards tenderness and acceptance.
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Church, emphasised that the declaration remains firm on the Church’s traditional doctrine about marriage.
The declaration encourages a process of conversion for bishops, urging them to apply tenderness in their approach, mirroring the compassion that God extends to each individual.
This historic move by Pope Francis signals a significant shift in the Church’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues, fostering a more inclusive environment for same-gender couples within the Roman Catholic community.
In 2021, Pope Francis asserted that priests could not bless same-sex marriages, asserting that God cannot bless sin.