Pope Francis has, for the first time, suggested the possibility same-sex unions could be blessed by the Catholic Church.
The Vatican published a written response from the Pope, written on 11 July, to five conservative cardinals from Asia, Europe, Africa, the United States and Latin America.
The group of cardinals asked him to affirm the Church’s teaching on homosexuality ahead of an upcoming meeting on LGBTQ+ Catholics. This came as one of a list of five formal questions, known as “dubia” (“doubts” in Latin).
The Pope wrote that the Church believes marriage remains “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman” and should avoid “any type of rite or sacramental that might contradict this conviction.”
“Decisions that may be part of pastoral prudence in certain circumstances should not necessarily become a norm”
But he recognised there is a possibility priests could bless a limited number of same-sex couples, decided on a case-by-case basis.
He said: “For this reason, pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of benediction, requested by one or more persons, that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage.
“Because when a benediction is requested, it is expressing a request for help from God, a plea to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us to live better.”
“Canon law should not and cannot cover everything”
He went on to say that “decisions that may be part of pastoral prudence in certain circumstances should not necessarily become a norm.”
“Canon law should not and cannot cover everything,” he added.
Earlier this year, the General Synod voted to allow priests to bless individuals within civil same-sex marriages in the Church of England.
This means these couples would be able to attend an Anglican Church after being legally married elsewhere for services such as prayers of dedication, thanksgiving, and God’s blessing.
Pope Francis is largely thought of as the most progressive Pope in history when it comes to the Catholic Church’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.
Back in August, he declared the Church “open to everyone,” but there are ‘laws’ that must be followed.
The Pope added at the time: “According to the legislation, they cannot partake in (some) sacraments.
“This does not mean that it is closed. Each person encounters God in their own way inside the Church,” he noted.
It came after he told a young trans person that “God loves us as we are.”
He listened to several stories including from someone called Giona. They detailed being “torn by the dichotomy between [their Catholic] faith and transgender identity.”
“The Lord always walks with us… Even if we are sinners, he draws near to help us,” he said. “The Lord loves us as we are, this is God’s crazy love. Do not give up, keep striving ahead.”