Pope expresses openness to same-sex blessings

(Photo: Alamy)

Pope Francis has expressed an openness towards the possibility of blessing same-sex partnerships in response to questions from five cardinals.

He suggested it may be an expression of "pastoral charity" but only so long as it is not conflated with marriage.

He also suggested that what may be considered "pastoral prudence in certain circumstances should not necessarily become a norm".

"It is not just a matter of names, but the reality we call marriage has a unique essential constitution that requires an exclusive name, not applicable to other realities. It is undoubtedly much more than a mere 'ideal,'" he wrote.

"For this reason, the Church avoids any type of rite or sacramental that might contradict this conviction and suggest that something that is not marriage is recognized as marriage.

"However, in our relationships with people, we must not lose the pastoral charity, which should permeate all our decisions and attitudes. The defence of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity; it also includes kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement. Therefore, we cannot be judges who only deny, reject, and exclude."

He added, "Therefore, pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not convey a mistaken concept of marriage."

The letter was a response to questions - or dubia - posed by five retired cardinals on critical issues. Although written earlier in the year, the Pope's answers were published on Monday ahead of the start of a major synod at the Vatican that is expected to address the issues raised by the retired cardinals.

Writer and Associate Editor of the Catholic Herald, Gavin Ashenden, questioned the Pope's response on X, formerly Twitter: "What is the 'status' of a pope who authorises the blessing of what the Church has always discerned as disorder, and the Bible as abomination ? Isn't this close to the sin against the Holy Spirit where evil is called good and good evil?"

The response to the dubia marks an abrupt departure from a decree issued by the Vatican in March 2021 with the Pope's approval stating that the Catholic Church could not bless same-sex partnerships because God "cannot bless sin".

That document reaffirmed marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and described gay sex as "intrinsically disordered".