Originally published in The Christian Post
The Vatican released a statement on Monday announcing that churches have no power to bless same-sex marriage since God “cannot bless sin,” which clarifies Pope Francis’ stance on same-sex unions.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic churches have the power to bless same-sex unions. The question comes when “plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced” in some “ecclesial contexts.”
“… It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage …,” the Vatican statement reads.
“As is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”
In a Monday interview with The Christian Post, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, which claims to be the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organisation, said the statement was “very much” welcomed because it removed doubt about the Vatican’s position on this topic.
“This [decision] finishes it,” Donohue said. “There’s nothing left to discuss. It’s non-negotiable. The Vatican left nothing on the table with these people pushing this agenda. It made it very clear that the Church can bless homosexuals as individuals, but it will never ever bless homosexual unions, never mind gay marriage.”
Same-sex marriage can’t be considered lawful in the Church because there are no grounds to consider it “even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” the statement written by Cardinal Luis Ladaria, a Spanish Jesuit, shared.
The Vatican’s statement comes after Pope Francis said during a documentary interview last October that he believes civil union laws should be created to legally cover same-sex couples in the civil sphere.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” the pope said.
Donohue said this was an awkwardly-phrased statement by the pope. But while some Catholics have urged Pope Francis to bless gay marriage in the past, the statement released today settles his position on same-sex unions.
Donohue said the statement came from the top doctrinal office of the Catholic Church and would not be released without receiving the Pope’s blessing.
“I was actually struck by the fact that it was so definitive,” Donohue said. “They really slammed the door shut on this issue. And I think it’s welcome because some Catholics and non-Catholics say: ‘Well, where is the Church on this issue? It seems to be bending toward their way.’ And now, I think this will put an end to it. And if people who are Catholic don’t like it, well, they are going to have to change their status then.”
In its statement, the Vatican said that the unlawful blessing of same-sex unions is not “a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.”
The Vatican’s response said the Christian community and pastors should “welcome with respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclination” and find appropriate ways to “proclaim to them the Gospel in its fullness.”
“But [God] does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognise that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. He in fact ‘takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are,’” the statement added.
The Catholic Church’s stance goes beyond gay marriage since it will not bless any union against God’s design of marriage, Donohue concluded.
“We can take it a step further,” he shared. “The Church will never bless cohabitation. This is not just with homosexuals. There are guys and gals who live together outside of marriage, and the Church does not recognise that. This is not strictly about homosexuals, although they are the ones who are pushing for it, obviously. But it would apply to any union that is outside of [licit marriage].”