Is the Church empowered to bless same-sex unions?
Olga Sakun – Vatican City
“In some ecclesiastical circles,” says the Responsum of the Congregation, “projects and proposals are being circulated concerning the blessings of unions between people of the same sex. Often these projects are motivated by a sincere will to accept and accompany people with homosexuality, who are offered paths of spiritual growth, so that those who express homosexual inclinations can receive the necessary help to understand and completely fulfill the will of God in their lives ”(cf. AL 250 ).
On this spiritual path, the Word of God, prayer, participation in church liturgical activities, deeds of mercy can play an important role, so that each person can freely and responsibly respond to the vocation arising from baptism, since God, like the Church, loves each person.
Among the liturgical actions of the Church, sacramentals (sacred rituals), which primarily have a spiritual effect, occupy a special place. Through the sacramentals, people “are disposed to accept the primary action of the Sacraments, and various life circumstances are sanctified” (SC 60). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sacramentals do not give the grace of the Holy Spirit as the Sacraments, but by church prayer they prepare for its reception and dispose a person to cooperation ”(1670). Sacramentals also include blessings.
“In order to be consistent with the nature of the sacramentals,” says a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “when a blessing is invoked on certain human relationships, in addition to the direct intention of their participants, it is necessary that the object of the blessing be objectively and authentically ordered to receive and manifest grace, in accordance with God’s plans, creation and wholly revealed by Jesus Christ. Thus, only those things are compatible with the church blessing, which, as such, are aimed at serving these plans. ” For this reason it is unacceptable to bless such relationships or partnerships, including stable ones, which involve sexual practice outside of marriage (that is, outside the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, by its nature open to the transfer of life).
In addition, as further specified in the Congregation document, the blessing of same-sex unions cannot be permissible, as it can become a kind of imitation or analogy of the marriage blessing invoked on a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage. There is no reason to liken same-sex union to God’s plan for marriage and family, or to draw an analogy between them, even a distant one.
It further argues that the prohibition of the blessings of same-sex unions should not be considered a manifestation of injustice and discrimination, since this prohibition is in line with the truth about the liturgical rite and the church’s understanding of the sacramental.
“The Christian community and pastors,” we read further in the text of Responsa, “are called to accept people with homosexual inclinations with respect and tact, and are called to find more appropriate ways, consistent with the teachings of the Church, in order to proclaim the Gospel in its fullness. At the same time, people with homosexual inclinations must recognize the sincere closeness of the Church and with a sincere disposition to accept the teachings of the Church, which prays for them and accompanies them, sharing with them the path of the Christian faith. “
This answer to the dubium about blessing same-sex unions does not exclude the possibility of blessing an individual with a homosexual inclination, if that person expresses the will to live faithfully to God’s purpose as set forth in the church teachers. This answer however prohibits any form of blessing tending towards the recognition of alliances between such people.
“The Church reminds us that God Himself does not stop blessing each of His children who wander through this earth, because for Him“ we are more important than all the sins that we could commit ”. But He does not bless and cannot bless sin: He blesses a sinful person so that he would recognize himself as a part of His loving plan and allow Him to transform himself. Indeed, He “accepts us as we are, but never leaves us as we are,” the document concludes, quoting Pope Francis at a general audience on December 2, 2020.
“For the above reasons, the Church is not and cannot be authorized to bless unions between people of the same sex in the above sense,” sums up the Responsum.