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Pope Francis okays Blessings For Same-Sex Couples In New Catholic Document

Pope Francis has formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, with a new document explaining a radical change in Vatican policy.

He insisted that people seeking God’s love and mercy shouldn’t be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive it.

The document from the Vatican’s doctrine office, released Monday, elaborates on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October.

In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessings could be offered under some circumstances if they didn’t confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage.

The new document repeats that condition and elaborates on it, reaffirming that marriage is a lifelong sacrament between a man and a woman. And it stresses that blessings in question must be non-liturgical in nature and should not be conferred at the same time as a civil union, using set rituals or even with the clothing and gestures that belong in a wedding.

But it says requests for such blessings for same-sex couples should not be denied full stop.

It offers an extensive and broad definition of the term “blessing” in Scripture to insist that people seeking a transcendent relationship with God and looking for his love and mercy should not be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” as a precondition for receiving it.

“Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God,” the document said. “The request for a blessing, thus, expresses and nurtures openness to the transcendence, mercy, and closeness to God in a thousand concrete circumstances of life, which is no small thing in the world in which we live.”

He added: “It is a seed of the Holy Spirit that must be nurtured, not hindered.”

The document marks the latest gesture of outreach from a pope who has made welcoming LGBTQ+ Catholics a hallmark of his papacy. From his 2013 quip, “Who am I to judge?” about a purportedly gay priest, to his 2023 comment to The Associated Press that “Being homosexual is not a crime,” Francis has distinguished himself from all his predecessors with his message of welcome.

“The significance of this news cannot be overstated,” said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which supports LGBTQ+ Catholics. “It is one thing to formally approve same-gender blessings, which he had already pastorally permitted, but to say that people should not be subjected to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive God’s love and mercy is an even more significant step.”

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