The Vatican declared Monday that the Catholic Church won’t bless same-sex unions since God “cannot bless sin.” The Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic clergy have the authority to bless gay unions. The answer, contained in a two-page explanation published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative.”
Explaining their decision in a lengthy note on Monday, the Holy See referred to same-sex unions as a “choice,” described them as sinful and said they “cannot be recognized as objectively ordered” to God’s plans. The stance is certain to disappoint millions of gay and lesbian Catholics around the world. The note distinguished between the church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people, which it upheld, but not their unions. It argued that such unions are not part of God’s plan and that any sacramental recognition of them could be confused with marriage. The Vatican holds that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.” Catholic teaching says that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman, is part of God’s plan and is intended for the sake of creating new life. Pope Francis, who has frequently been praised for his welcoming tone towards LGBTQ people both within and outside the Church, approved the note.
The decision is a setback for Catholics who had hoped the institution would modernize its approach to homosexuality. Dozens of countries, include many in western Europe, have legalized same-sex marriages, and the Church’s reticence to embrace LGBTQ people has long held the potential to alienate it from younger followers.